Even as Punjab approaches the 2017 assembly polls amid fears of widespread violence expressed by the opposition parties, data collated by the Punjab Home Department shows that the conviction rate for electoral offences registered during the 2012 assembly polls has been as low as 33.06 per cent.
In the run-up to the 2012 elections, a large number of cases had been registered under the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act, Representation of People’s Act, NDPS Act, Excise Act and cases pertaining to defacement of property. Data accessed by The Indian Express shows that a large number of cases have resulted in acquittals or have been closed and many were still under trial.
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The data has been shared with the Election Commission.
Out of the 369 cases registered under various acts for electoral offences in the last assembly elections in 2012, conviction was secured in 122 cases, while in 62 cases, accused were acquitted and 55 cases are under trial. In as many as 130 cases, police submitted closure report to the court.
The district-wise break-up of data shows that Amritsar City and Amritsar Rural police districts along with Sangrur and Moga districts were the ones with the worst conviction rates. On the other hand, Jalandhar Rural and Mohali districts performed much better in getting convictions for the cases registered.
“The EC should pursue these cases closely and not wait till next elections to find out what their fate has been. Cases relating to violence or intimidation of voters should be specifically pursued so that there is some element of deterrence,” said senior Congress leader Sunil Jakhar.
According to Sukhpal Khaira, senior leader of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the misuse of police by the government in order to scuttle the cases of their supporters was a common issue.