Consequent to Indian independence, the Parliament enacted a special enactment, i.e., the Representation of People’s Act, 1951, to regulate election proceedings and control electoral malpractices. However, ordinary criminal courts still have jurisdiction to decide on election-related offences.
Sections 171B to 171I of Chapter IXA of the Indian Penal Code deal with the offences related to elections and punishment concerning such offences. Chapter IXA includes elections of Parliament, State Legislatures, as well as local bodies such as Panchayats and municipalities.
Here is an article that talks about the offences related to elections and punishment related to such offences.
Offence of Bribery at Elections
Section 171B of the Indian Penal Code defines the offence of bribery at an election. Accordingly, as per this section, when any person offers any kind of commitment to another person or agrees to fulfil any given commitment with the intent to exercise the electoral right, the person making the offer is said to have committed the offence of bribery at an election.
Further, section 171B of the IPC states that declaring the fulfilment of anything in public does not amount to the offence of bribery.
Punishment for Bribery
Punishment for bribery at elections is contained in section 171E of the Indian Penal Code. The punishment for bribery at an election is imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine or both. However, bribery by treating is punishable with a fine only.
Treating means not giving the money but rather giving food, drink, entertainment etc., as bribery.
Offence of Undue Influence at Elections
Section 171C of the Indian Penal Code defines undue influence in elections. According to section 171C of IPC, undue influence in elections means voluntary interference or attempted interference with the right to exercise one’s vote freely, such as to stand or not to stand as a candidate or withdraw from being a candidate, to vote or refrain from voting, etc.
In Raj Dev vs Gangadhar (1964), the candidate was attempting to influence the public by stating that anyone who does not vote for him would be a sinner against the Lord as well as the Hindu religion. The court held that this kind of propaganda amounts to an offence under section 171F, read with section 171C of IPC.
Punishment for Undue Influence
The punishment for undue influence at elections is provided under section 171F of IPC. Accordingly, any person who interferes or attempts to interfere with the electoral right is liable to imprisonment for not more than one year, a fine or both.
Offence of Personation at Elections
Section 171D of the Indian Penal Code defines personation at elections. It was inserted by the Election Laws (Amendment) Act of 2003. According to section 171D of IPC, personation is the act of voting twice or attempting to vote in someone else’s name or a fictitious name. Any person who procures, abets, or attempts to procure in such voting is also liable for the offence of personation at elections under section 171D of IPC.
Further, section 171D states that where a person is permitted by any law in effect to cast a vote in an elector’s place, he will not be considered guilty of the offence of personation at an election.
Punishment for Personation
Punishment for personation is provided under section 171F of IPC, along with the punishment of undue influence at elections. According to section 171F, a person guilty of personation is to be punished with imprisonment of not more than one year, or fine or both.
Offence of Making False Statements
Section 171G of the Indian Penal Code provides punishment for the false statement of facts related to the personal character or conduct of the candidate.
For example, A says that B, who is standing for any election, is a murderer. Here, A will be liable for punishment under section 171G of the IPC.
Punishment for Making False Statements
Section 171G states that if a person makes or publishes any statement related to the character or conduct of the candidate with the intention of affecting the results of such a candidate at an election is liable for the fine.
Offence Related to Illegal Payments
Section 171H of the Indian Penal Code provides punishment for illegal payments concerning the election. Accordingly, a fine of no more than 500 rupees is imposed as punishment on anyone who incurs any expenses to hold any public meeting, advertise, or other such activity to promote the election of the candidate without such candidate’s written permission.
In other words, this section makes it illegal for any person to incur (spend) any expense in connection with the promotion of the candidate’s election unless authorised by such a candidate. However, when a person spends less than ten rupees without the permission of the candidate and obtains the written permission of such candidate within ten days, such person will not be held liable for the punishment given under section 171H of IPC.
Failure to Maintain Election Accounts
Section 171I of the Indian Penal Code imposes penalties in case of failure to keep accounts of election expenses. Any person who is authorised to keep the accounts of expenses incurred in connection with the election and fails to do so is subject to punishment of a fine of not more than five hundred rupees.
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|Offence||Defined In (IPC)||Punishable Under (IPC)||Punishment||Type of Offence||Triable Under Which Court|
|Bribery||Section 171B||Section 171E||Imprisonment of not more than 1 year or fine or both. In case of treating- fine only||Non-Cognizable, Bailable||Magistrate 1st class|
|Undue influence||Section 171C||Section 171F||Imprisonment of not more than 1 year or fine or both.||Non-Cognizable, Bailable||Magistrate 1st class|
|Personation||Section 171D||Section 171F||Imprisonment of not more than 1 year or fine or both.||Cognizable, Bailable||Magistrate 1st class|
|Making or publishing false statements||Section 171G||Section 171G||Fine||Non-Cognizable, Bailable||Magistrate 1st class|
|Illegal payment||Section 171H||Section 171H||Fine, not more than 500 rupees||Non-Cognizable, Bailable||Magistrate 1st class|
|Failure in maintaining accounts of elections||Section 171I||Section 171I||Fine, not more than 500 rupees||Non-Cognizable, Bailable||Magistrate 1st class|
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