In a significant move, the Election Commission (EC) has anticipated disqualification of sitting MPs and MLAs chargesheeted for the crime of bribery or excessive influence in polls under Sections 171B and 171C of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
EC learnt to have sent a letter to the secretary, ministry of law and justice, on January 2. It sought an amendment to Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act 1951, in a bid to include disqualification on framing of charges for bribery.
Presently, Section 8 procures several offences, including poll graft, for which a legislator can be barred from contesting polls for 6-years if convicted. The Law Commission had suggested that disqualification should take effect even if a court frames charges for offences bookable by a jail term of five years.
However, the EC wants the administration to bring bribery and undue influence in polls, under Sections 171B and 171C of IPC. It wants to bring it under the ambit of the Law Commission’s proposal even though the extreme punishment for it is custody of up to one year only.
“The proposal is based on the premise that bribery of electors is a serious offence, which needs to be dealt with firmly,” EC’s letter said.
This is the latest proposal in a series of demands made by EC from the government to handle mounting events of graft in polls in recent years. The EC has already sought an amendment to Section 58A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. It allows adjourning or canceling elections in case of booth capturing.