KOCHI: It is the first time a political party has been able to establish allegations of bogus voting with clinching evidence in Kerala, which has triggered a debate on the ethics and legal implications. Bogus voting and impersonation are crimes which, if established, can attract prosecution procedures against the voter and the polling officers who abetted the crime.
Former Director General of Prosecution T Asaf Ali said there were provisions in the Indian Penal Code and Representation of People Act to prosecute polling officers and people who cast bogus votes as it was possible only with the aid of the officers.
“It is a cognizable offence, hence, the police can initiate suo motu proceedings. Mere information is sufficient for the police to proceed in this matter. A single case of impersonation is an offence,” said Asaf Ali.
According to legal experts, the police can initiate proceedings under Section 171 F (Punishment for undue influence or personation at an election) of IPC or Section 171 D (Personation at an election). According to Section 171 F, whoever commits the offence of undue influence or personation at an election shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.
The legal experts also said the action can be taken against the offenders under the Representation of the People Act 1951. In the case of the polling officer, action can be initiated under section 134 (Breaches of official duty in connection with the elections).
Besides, bogus voting is also a ground for declaring the election as void. It would be possible only through an election petition after the declaration of results. Legal experts opine the visuals of voting proceedings under the possession of the Election Commission can be obtained by anyone under the Right to Information Act. Asaf Ali said Indian Lawyers Congress intends to access the CCTV footage through RTI of those polling booths where mass bogus voting was reported.