KOCHI: While the Opposition has upped the ante demanding repoll in all the booths in Kasargod Lok Sabha constituency where allegations of bogus voting are raised, it seems the task is easier said than done before the announcement of election results. As per the law, the Election Commission can declare repoll only when there are instances of booth capturing, technical snag or unprecedented events.
Repoll was declared at a polling booth in Kalamassery under the Ernakulam Lok Sabha constituency considering a technical snag in the EVM during the poll process on April 23. However, no such eventuality was reported in Kasargod, which necessitates the immediate intervention of the Election Commission.
In the case of bogus voting, countermanding of an election in a booth is not easy. “It is a matter of evidence. A proper trial will be necessitated at the court in such instances,” says High Court lawyer Unni Sebastian Kappen. The UDF can approach the Kerala High Court if it loses the election. If impersonation is proved, it will be a ground to set aside the election.
However, they should prove that the bogus voting affected the results of the election. For example, if it was proved that 150 votes were cast impersonating the real voters and the margin is below 150, the election will be set aside. However, if the margin is 500, the election petition will be dismissed unless there are other valid grounds, he said.
According to the Representation of People Act, a fresh poll will be declared in the case of any ballot box used at a polling station or at a place fixed for the poll is unlawfully taken out of the custody of the presiding officer or the returning officer, or is accidentally or intentionally destroyed or lost, or is damaged or tampered with, to such an extent, that the result of the poll at that polling station or place cannot be ascertained.
Besides, repolling became necessary when any voting machine develops a mechanical failure during the course of the recording of votes and any such error or irregularity in the procedure as is likely to vitiate the poll is committed at a polling station or at a place fixed for the poll, the returning officer shall forthwith report the matter to the Election Commission. Thereafter, Election Commission shall, after taking all material circumstances into account, declare fresh election in the particular booth.