September 26, 2016 11:32:40 pm
Election Commission of India today submitted in the Madras High Court that there is no provision under law to recover election expenditure from candidates in case of cancellation of polls due to irregularities in the run up to elections by the contesting candidates. In a PIL, M Baskaran and G Kunjithapatham, both of PMK, had sought a direction from the court for the recovery of the election expenses from errant candidates.
The duo were contestants in the Aravakurichi and Thanjavur Assembly constituencies, where bypolls were cancelled by ECI following alleged large scale distribution of money to voters by some candidates and political parties. They had sought recovery from the candidates because of whom the conduct of elections were postponed or cancelled by Election Commission.
Besides election expenses they also sought recovery of spending made by the other candidates for the purpose of elections. They had also sought the court that candidates of AIADMK and DMK in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur should not be allowed to contest any election until the expenses incurred by all other candidates were recovered from them.
When the matter came up today before the High Court, ECI in its affidavit submitted that there is no provision empowering it in the Representation of Peoples Act (RPA) or the Constitution to recover the expenditure incurred in conduct of elections from candidates or any other person. Also, no rules were made under the RPA for it and in the absence of any such statutory provision there was no legal right or obligation that could allow recovery of expenditure. “Though Article 324 was a reservoir of powers to the ECI, it was of the view that recovery of expenses cannot be made.”
ECI, however, said it had already recommended to the Centre to amend the Cr.P.C to make the offence of bribery in elections a cognizable offence and to make the punishment for it more stringent by providing for imprisonment up to two years.
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