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Bribing of voters in cash or kind to be made a cognisable offence

New delhi, February 12 (AGENCIES): The Law Ministry has reportedly accepted a proposal of the Election Commission to amend the law to make bribing of voters, either in cash or kind, a cognisable offence. It has written to the Home Ministry seeking issue of an ordinance to amend IPC Section 171(B), under which the bribe giver is now booked, to make it a cognisable offence. It would also apply to those who take bribes. With the amendment, law enforcing agencies would have arresting power. Persons convicted under the section can be jailed up to one year or be fined or both.
According to Section 123(1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, acceptance of money to vote is a corrupt practice. Section 171B(1) in IPC, 1860 reads: Whoever - (i) gives a gratification to any person with the object of inducing him or any other person to exercise any electoral right or of rewarding any person for having exercised any such right; or (ii) accepts either for himself or for any other person any gratification as a reward for exercising any such right or for inducing or attempting to induce any other person to exercise any such right, commits the offence of bribery — provided that a declaration of public policy or a promise of public action shall not be an offence under this section.
Asked for his reaction, P.K. Dash, Director General of the Election Expenditure Monitoring Cell of the Election Commission, told The Hindu that making it a cognisable offence would have a deterrent effect on those bribing or accepting bribes during the poll as they could be arrested and imprisoned. “Money power and muscle power are the two issues which worry the Commission and due to intensive and proactive action taken by the poll body in curbing movement of illegal money in the election areas, the muscle power or violence, too, has come down as no anti-social or unscrupulous elements indulge in trouble making unless they get money,” Mr. Dash said.
He pointed out that of the five States — where the Assembly election process is currently on — in Uttar Pradesh alone Rs. 53.5-cr. unaccounted cash had been seized by the flying squad as well as static squads of the Commission. Seizures of Rs. 12.13-cr. cash in Punjab, Rs. 1.35-cr. in Uttarakhand, Rs. 47 lakh in Manipur and Rs. 36 lakh in Goa have made so far.

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