Issuing whips to MPs, MLAs in prez poll is an offence: EC

 Political parties cannot issue any direction or whip to members to vote or not in Presidential poll as it would be an offence and MPs and MLAs will not risk disqualification under Anti-Defection law in the process, Election Commission said today.

Setting at rest doubts on the issue, the poll panel observed that the "political parties cannot issue any direction or whip to their members to vote in a particular manner or not to vote at the election leaving them with no choice, as that would tantamount to the offence of undue influence within the meaning of section 171C of the IPC."

The Commission said the electors are at liberty to vote or not to vote at the Presidential election as per their own free will and choice.

"In the Commission's opinion, the voting or not voting in the Presidential poll as per the member's own free will not come within the ambit of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule (Anti-Defection Law) to the Constitution of India," the EC said.

The Commission said the voting at election to the Office of President of India is not compulsory like the voting at elections to the House of the People and State Legislatures where also there is no compulsion to vote.

It said every elector at the Presidential election has the freedom of making a choice to vote for any candidate or not to vote at the election, as per his/her free will and choice.

This, the EC said, will equally apply to the political parties and they are free to canvas or seek votes of electors for any candidate or requesting or appealing to them to refrain from voting.

The Commission said voting by members of the electoral college is outside the House concerned and not a part of the proceeding of the House.

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