Representation of People Act, 1951: What are electoral offences?
Bengaluru, Mar 12: Voters should know what are the corrupt practices and electoral offences as Lok Sabha elections are approaching fast. The Representation of People Act, 1951 has provides for the conduct of election of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.
It was introduced in Parliament by law minister Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The Act was enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election.
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea that sought a minimum punishment of two years for electoral offences, including bribery, false statement, undue influence, by candidates and political parties. In 2018, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra refused to entertain a PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay that sought to make electoral offences cognisable. In his plea, Upadhyay had alleged that since 2000, apart from general and state assembly elections, bribes were also given to garner support for particular political parties and candidates in by-polls.
Bribery : Sec 123 (1) under The Representation of People Act, 1951
'Bribery', that is to say, -
(A) any gift, offer or promise by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent of any gratification, to any person whomsoever, with the object, directly or indirectly of inducing -
a person to stand or not to stand as, or to withdraw or not to withdraw from being a candidate at an election, or an elector to vote or refrain from voting at an election, or as a reward to -
a person for having so stood, or not stood, or for having withdrawn or not having withdrawn his candidature; or an elector for having voted or refrained from voting;
(B) the receipt of, or agreement to receive, any gratification, whether as a motive or a reward
'Undue influence', that is to say, any direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere on the part of the candidate, or his agent, or of any other person with the consent of the candidate or his election agent; with the free exercise of any electoral right
Promoting enmity between classes in connection with election: S ec 125 of RPA Act 1951, 153 A of 1960
Any person who in connection with an election, under this Act promotes or attempts to promote on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language, feelings of enmity or hatred, between different classes of the citizens of India shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.
Restrictions on the printing of pamphlet, posters, etc: Sec 127 A of RPA Act 1951
No person shall print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any election pamphlet or poster which does not bear on its face the names and addresses of the printer and publisher thereof.
No Person shall print, or cause to be printed any election pamphlet or poster -
Unless a declaration as to the identity of the publisher thereof, signed by him and attested by two persons to whom he is personally known, is delivered by him to the printer in duplicate; and
Unless, within a reasonable time after the printing of the document, one copy of the declaration is sent by the printer, together with one copy of the document printed to such officer as may be authorised by the State Election Commission in this behalf.
Penalty for Government servants or servants of a local self Government institution for acting as election agent, polling agent or counting agent: Section 129 of RPA Act 1951
If any person in the service of the Government or of a local self Government institution acts as an election agent or a polling agent or a counting agent of a candidate at an election, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine or with both.
Prohibition of canvassing in or near polling stations: Section 130 of RPA Act 1951
No person shall, on the date or dates on which a poll is taken at any polling station, commit any of the following acts within the polling station or in any public or private place within a distance of two hundred metres of the polling station namely: -
canvassing for votes; or
soliciting the vote of any elector; or
persuading any elector not to vote for any particular candidate; or
persuading any elector not to vote at the election; or
exhibiting any notice or sign (other than an official notice) relating to the election.
Offence of booth capturing: Sec 135B of RPA Act 1951
Whoever commits an offence of booth capturing shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to three years and with fine, and where such offence is committed by a person in the service of the Government or a local authority, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to five years and with fine.