Coimbatore-based RTI activist M Loganathan, a practising advocate and coordinator of the Federation for Sustainable Development, an NGO, has unearthed nearly 200 cases wherein no action has been initiated by the Election Commission (EC) on removing those who have been convicted of electoral malpractices from the electoral rolls.
Speaking to Express, Loganathan said the information provided in the representation was gathered from replies given by various police stations across the State through RTI queries and convictions done up to October 2012. “By this time, more persons would have got convicted,” he added.
“Handing out warning after warning to people to eschew electoral malpractices will not help much. Only news about punishment given to those involved in these crimes will act as a greater deterrent,” he said and added that on this count, the Election Commission has failed to act.
“When a person gets convicted in electoral malpractices, the police should inform the Collector who, in turn, apprises the Election Commission. But, this is not happening at present. Due to this procedural lacunae, even after conviction, the names of errant persons continue to be in electoral rolls”, he said and urged the EC to pay serious attention to this and issue guidelines to all concerned to enforce the law.
In this connection, he showed a letter from the Coimbatore Collector, dated January 10, 2011, to the Chief Electoral Officer requesting him to delete the name of a person who was convicted of indulging in malpractices during the by-election to
Thondamuthur Assembly constituency in 2009, Loganathan said. He said the police and the district administration should have sent similar letters to the EC, but it didn’t happen.
When contacted, the CEO said, “We have received a list of persons reportedly convicted for electoral malpractices. We will send it to the Collectors for verification. If found true, the law will be followed in this regard.”
The Coimbatore-based NGO has been engaged in protecting natural resources in the State and has been carrying out a campaign against genetically modified crops.