Ideas for halting the transfer of cash to voters: Madras High Court

The State Election Commission (SEC) was given instructions by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday to provide recommendations, if any, on how to successfully stop the distribution of cash to voters.

R Anand, an attorney, told the court that most FIRs lodged for such offenses were not reaching the court and that final reports were only being filed in a few number of instances. The court was considering a motion to dismiss the proceedings ongoing in a 2011 case on the accusation of providing money to voters. The counsel said that no prosecutions have occurred despite the fact that these instances are reported annually.

The petitioners filed requests to have the proceedings against them halted since the case’s final reports were submitted beyond the statute of limitations. They were accused of providing money to voters in 2011 in violation of Section 171(E) of the IPC.

Judge B. Pugalendhi appointed Anand as amicus curiae in the case, directing the government advocate to request information from the SEC regarding the number of cases filed in the 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 Assembly elections pertaining to the distribution of cash or bribes to voters in order to determine the framework in place for the cases’ effective prosecution. The court also requested information on the cases’ present status and, if any, specifics of convictions. He said, “The SEC needs to provide an explanation for how they are investigating cases related to electoral offenses.”

The court expressed the opinion that even if instances of bribery were filed, it seemed that the criminal penalties for the offense were ineffective. The judge said, “Final reports were filed after 10 years, but the case was registered in 2011 for the distribution of money in the petition the court is dealing with.”

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