A poll activist has moved the Madras High Court accusing the Election Commission of committing "dereliction of duty" in not lodging complaint against bribe- taking voters and has sought remedial action over the matter.
Acting on the plea by activist Arun Natarajan, a bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar issued notice to the poll panel seeking its stand over the matter and adjourned it for further hearing on July 11.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram said section 171(b) of the Indian Penal Code clearly states that bribe takers are as much guilty of the offence of bribery as the bribe givers.
The counsel said the EC report on recent cancellation of the R K Nagar bypoll here, mentioned only about bribe givers and not a word was said about the bribe takers, who too were equally guilty of the offence.
Referring to the Election Commission reports and the complaints lodged in this regard, the counsel argued that two lakh voters out of 2.4 lakh eligible voters were given Rs 4,000 each.
But no voter was mentioned in the complaints.
"The election commission missed a golden opportunity and is guilty of dereliction of duty," the counsel said.
The Election Commission counsel Niranjan Rajagopal said the constitutional body was mandated to hold elections, and watched only contestants' conduct during the polls.
While not denying the fact that the collusion of voters in bribery too could have been attended to, the EC counsel said there were practical difficulties too as the commission could not either identify or slap cases on two lakh voters.
"What will be the voters' response then, and will they come for voting at all?" he asked.
Chidambaram, however, said it would have sent a strong message to errant voters who were under the impression that taking money to cast votes was not an offence at all.
After hearing the preliminary arguments, the bench issued notice to the EC and adjourned the matter for further hearing.
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