Why are poll fraud cases not pursued effectively: SC

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Union government to respond why criminal cases pertaining to election frauds including bribing of voters were not pursued effectively.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer also directed the Election Commission to file an affidavit, explaining why numerous criminal cases relating to crimes committed during elections were completely left for the state machinery to prosecute.

The court’s direction came as it heard Karnataka Additional Advocate General Devadatt Kamat’s plea
challenging the Karnataka High Court’s order of February 12, 2015, that had quashed the criminal case registered against Prathik Parasrampuria on April 11, 2014
on recovery of cash over Rs 20.48 lakh and other materials by Election Commission’s flying squad in Ballari Lok Sabha constituency.

The raids were conducted at Parasrampuria’s residence and business complex by the flying squad in its efforts to control the distribution of cash, gifts, liquor, free food for maintaining the integrity of the election.

The high court, however, had quashed the FIR on the ground that there was no assertion in the complaint as to whom the accused intended to bribe and the mode which he had planned to adopt.

On state government’s challenge to the HC’s order, the top court’s bench had on September 5, 2017 said, “We are of the opinion that though wide powers are vested in the Election Commission under Article 324(1) of the Constitution, they are regulated by statutory provisions as are enacted by the Parliament. We are informed that numerous criminal cases relating to crimes committed during elections are not being pursued effectively as the prosecution is completely left for the state machinery.”

On Tuesday, a counsel appearing for the EC, submitted that there were already guidelines relating to prosecution of electoral offences.

Kamat, for his part, contended the apex court’s order of September 5, 2017, had wider ramifications as it went to the very root of the integrity of the electoral process. In cases of theft of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the Election Commision had to play important role even after the registration of criminal case, as those machines are ultimately property of the poll panel.

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Why are poll fraud cases not pursued effectively: SC

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