R K Nagar bypoll: EC orders FIR over ‘bribing of voters’

Chennai: The Election Commission has asked the Tamil Nadu chief electoral officer to lodge a police case over the alleged bribery of voters in R K Nagar assembly segment, the poll panel has said in reply to a query under transparency law.

The bypoll slated for April 12 was cancelled subsequently following allegations of large-scale distribution of money to voters, entailing raids by the tax authorities.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) said it had directed the Chief Election Officer (CEO), Tamil Nadu on April 18 to ask the R K Nagar Returning Officer (RO) to file a complaint with police for bribing the voters.

In its response to a plea under Right to Information Act by a Chennai-based lawyer, M P Vairakkannan, a copy of which was circulated to media here, ECI Secretary Malay Mallick in his letter to the CEO refers to the Income Tax report on raids in Tamil Nadu, vis-a-vis the bypoll.

The letter said the Commission had received a report on April 9 from IT department on search and seizure of documents indicating large-scale distribution of money to bribe voters.

The alleged bribe/inducement was to influence the bypoll in RK Nagar which is an offence under IPC, the letter noted.

“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Commission has directed that an FIR may be filed by the RO in the instant case,” the letter said.

The letter, signed by Mallick, further said, “It is expected that quick and appropriate action is taken by the police and the Commission is apprised about the same at the earliest.”

The Right to Information (RTI) plea of April 26 was received by the Commission on May 3 and the first of its eight questions sought to know about the action over the alleged distribution of money.

The query asked as to what action the poll panel would be taken against the electoral misconduct of distribution of money to voters in R K Nagar constituency against various persons.

The people against whom the proposed action by the poll panel had been enquired about included AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary T T V Dhinakaran, Chief Minister Edapadi K Palanisamy and ministers Sengotaiyan, Sellur K Raju, Thangamani and Vijayabaskar.

In response to the RTI plea, the ECI said “the Commission has directed that an FIR may be filed by the returning officer in the instant case, vide the Commission’s letter dated April 18.”

The second query in the RTI application asked, “Whether you (the ECI) have any proposal to disqualify the above persons for indulging in election misconduct?”

The ECI has responded to this query saying “information not in material form.”

Similar was the answer to a question asking if there was any proposal to refer the matter to the CBI for a probe.

Meanwhile, Vairakkannan has approached the Madras High Court over this issue.

In his writ plea, expected to come up on Monday for hearing, he contended that though ECI directed the Tamil Nadu CEO to take appropriate action, the latter and the R K Nagar returning officer had not done so.

On the RTI response, he alleged that the CEO and the returning officer “are shielding the offenders for political reason.”

He further submitted that it was just and necessary to direct the Tamil Nadu CEO and R K Nagar RO to file an FIR with the police.

He also sought a direction to the police to probe the matter and file a chargesheet for the commission of offence punishable under the IPC.