For the first time in electoral history, the Election Commission (EC) has clamped Section 144 of the CrPC across Tamil Nadu for 36 hours, in an attempt to prevent cash distribution to bribe voters.
Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar on Tuesday announced that prohibitory orders will be in force from 6 pm on Tuesday, when campaign ends, to 6 am on Thursday, an hour before commencement of polling.
“Based on feedback and to check money distribution and maintain law and order by preventing clashes between members of political parties, the prohibitory order has been issued,” the CEO told the media here.
On April 12, after reviewing the arrangements for the Lok Sabha elections, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath had directed the State election machinery to be extra vigilant during the 24-hour period prior to polling, since it would be crucial for distribution of cash and gifts. The EC had already assessed that Tamil Nadu is one of the top ‘expenditure sensitive states’.
The order issued by collectors said: “In order to maintain peace and public tranquility and to conduct a free and fair poll, a prohibitory order under Section 144 of CrPC is hereby promulgated against gathering and movement of people in groups of more than five persons from 6 pm on April 22 to 6 am on April 24.”
The CPM was the first party to oppose the EC’s move. In a representation, T K Rangararan, MP, said the EC had gone beyond its mandate by imposing Section 144.