KOCHI: The Crime Branch probe into the police postal vote scam has found that while 39,338 personnel had indicated their willingness to cast ballot through postal vote, only 12, 644 filled up applications were sent back via nodal officers to the Returning Officers concerned.
According to a top officer, who is part of the probe team, the number of postal votes exercised by the police personnel are yet to be identified. It will be possible to do so only after May 23. “The investigation is underway. There were 37 members in the WhatsApp group in which the audio clip pertaining to postal votes was circulated by Vaisakh, a commando attached to the India Reserve Battalion. Those members will be questioned. Many of them are out of the state on election duty,” he said.
Adv T Asaf Ali, who is appearing for Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala before the High Court in the postal ballot case, said the ongoing investigation is pointless since all the documents pertaining to the alleged fraud are under the custody and domain of the Election Commission. Hence, an investigation by an independent agency is essential, he said.
The report submitted to DGP Loknath Behera on May 14 by Crime Branch, IG, Thiruvananthapuram Range, reveals the steps taken by the probe team. According to the report, all the Returning Officers in the state have been asked to provide details of Form 12 (letter of intimation to Returning Officer intending to cast a postal vote) and Form 13 (application for postal ballot). The IG pointed out that the details of Form 13 filled and returned to the Returning Officers can be made available by the ROs only on May 23. It will be impossible for the inquiry officer to reach a conclusion unless the process of postal voting is rendered complete on counting day.
The IG had alerted all unit heads in the Police Department to find out from personnel under them, whether they have any complaint against anyone usurping their right to cast votes independently.