THE Law Ministry has shot down the Election Commission’s proposal seeking permanent legal powers to cancel elections in case there is credible evidence of voters being bribed.
The government’s rejection was communicated to the EC through a letter dated September 26, less than two months before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shock ban on 500 and 1,000 rupee notes to check illicit money. Modi had also referred to the debate on the role of black money in elections in his televised address to the nation on November 8, while announcing the surprise move. Unaccounted cash is perceived to be the lifeblood for political parties during election season. It is spent on staging rallies and bribing voters.
As reported by The Indian Express on June 6, the Commission had sent a proposal seeking an amendment to Section 58A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which empowers the election watchdog to adjourn or cancel elections in case of booth-capturing. The EC had sought the insertion of a new section, 58B, to enable it to take similar action if voters of a constituency are bribed by political parties.