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Home ministry prepares cabinet note proposing to make electoral bribery cognizable offence

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Home ministry prepares cabinet note proposing to make electoral bribery cognizable offence

 

 

NEW DELHI: In what could be the first poll reform ushered in by the Modi government, the home ministry has prepared a draft cabinet note proposing to make electoral bribery a cognizable offence under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). A cognizable offence is an offence for which a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant.

 

The police are also allowed to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court for cognizable offences. Currently, bribing voters, in cash or kind, during the election season is a non-cognisable offence under sections 171B/171E of the Indian Penal Code, which attracts only up to one-year of imprisonment or fine as punishment.

 

The Election Commission of India (ECI), in 2012, had asked the home ministry to amend the first schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, to make it a cognizable offence and also increase punishment to up to two years.

 

That suggestion has been accepted by the new government. The home ministry, in a letter dated December 22, 2014, has informed the poll panel that the process to amend the CrPC has been "initiated" and that a draft cabinet note, approved by home minister Rajnath Singh, has been sent to the legislative department to prepare a draft bill.

 

The ministry's letter was in response to the poll panel's query, dated December 11, 2013, regarding the status of the suggestion to make bribery a cognizable offence. "We made this query because it pertains specifically to the home ministry.

 

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Other electoral reforms are with the law ministry and they have sent it to the Law Commission for their suggestions on it," said a senior EC official, who did not wish to be identified.

 

The EC has often lamented that without changes in the IPC and CrPC, it is like a toothless tiger as currently bribery is a bailable offence attracting only minimal punishment. "This is required for us to take any effective action. Without a warrant you can't even search the house of person who could be hiding Rs 20 lakh at home to distribute among voters at night,' said another EC official, not authorized to speak to media.

Read more at:

Home ministry prepares cabinet note proposing to make electoral bribery cognizable offence - The Economic Times

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