EC may seek change of law to counter corruption in polls

RSTV Bureau

election-commisionAgainst the backdrop of increasing use of money power to influence voters, the Election Commission is considering asking the government to change the electoral law to allow it to cancel polls on the ground of ‘cash-for-vote’. At present, the Commission has powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to cancel or postpone polls if they have been vitiated due to use of money to get votes.

The poll panel, it is learnt, now wants the government to amend the Representation of the People Act to make use of money power a ground to cancel or countermand polls. A provision in the RP Act allows EC to only cancel polls if muscle power has been used or booths have been captured to influence the outcome of elections.

EC officials on Monday said it would be better if the provision to cancel polls on the grounds of use of money is incorporated in the law and the Commission does not have to resort to exercising its constitutional power for the same.

The Commission is likely to write to the Law Ministry in the coming days to amend the RP Act to add the provision, they said.

On May 27, EC had recommended to the Tamil Nadu Governor to cancel the notification to hold polls to the Arvakurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies following evidence that a large sum of money was used to influence the voters there.

Tamil Nadu had gone for Assembly polls on May 16 after which AIADMK returned to power for a second consecutive term. But EC is yet to announce fresh schedule to hold Assembly polls in the two constituencies.

The Commission had used its constitutional powers in March 2012 recommending to the President to cancel notification for a Rajya Sabha biennial election from Jharkhand even after the polling had concluded after it found that money was used to influence voters.

The Commission had on June 3 asked the Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka to give a factual report of a recent sting operation that purportedly showed a group of MLAs from Karnataka demanding money for supporting a candidate for the June 11 Rajya Sabha polls.