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Law Commission Proposals for Framing of Charges and Disqualifications

 

  1. Law Commission proposes certain amendments to RP Act, 1951. To quote the report, "major proposal put forward relates to amendment of section 8 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 which, as it now stands, provides for disqualification on the ground of conviction for certain named offences. It is well known that mafia leaders and leaders or members of criminal gangs rarely get convicted by courts. The reasons for this phenomenon are well known, the foremost among them being the unwillingness of the witnesses to come forward and depose for fear of reprisals from the accused. It is accordingly proposed that even if charges are framed under any of the offences mentioned in sub-section (1) is not necessary; if the charges are framed by the court under any of those offences, it would be sufficient to attract the disqualification under section 8. For this purpose, several measures have to be adopted, namely,
  1. Shifting the offences under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 from sub-section (1) of section 8 to sub-section (2) thereof. This is for the reason that in the opinion of the Commission it is not advisable to increase the punishment provided by the provisions of the Civil Rights Act to three years (in which case along it would become a warrant case, requiring the framing of charges).
  2. It is suggested that the punishment under sections 171E and 171F should be enhanced to three years in addition to fine in place of the existing punishment of one year of fine or both. It is also suggested that offences under sections 171G, 171H and 171I of the Indian Penal Code should not only be included in clause (a) of subsection (1) of section 8, but the punishment under the said three sections should also be enhanced to three years in addition to fine. It may be mentioned that all the offences mentioned under sections 171E to 171I are offences relating to elections. These provisions were added by chapter IXA introduced in the IPC by Amendment Act 39 of 1970. Over the years, we have seen that these offences are on rise and are becoming more widespread, and more serious. To counteract this trend, it is necessary to enhance the punishment under the aforesaid sections so as to make the procedure relating to warrant cases applicable in all such cases. It may be mentioned that in cases triable as warrant cases, the framing of charges is obligatory (unless of course the accused is discharged) whereas in case of offences triable according to summons procedure, framing of the charges is optional with the court. Once the procedure for warrant cases is attracted and charges are framed in respect of specified offences, the accused person would be disqualified under section 8 of the Representation of People Act, 1951. Necessary Amendment Bill for this purpose is appended herewith as IPC (Amendment) Bill.
  3. Similarly, the punishment under sections 135, 135A and 136(2) of the Representation of the People Act is also proposed to be enhanced to three years. These offences pertain to removal of ballot papers from polling stations, booth capturing and fraudulently defacing of destroying nomination papers. They too are election offences and deserve to be treated on par with, if not more severely than, the offences mentioned in Chapter IXA of the Indian penal Code."(Page No.20 to 23 of Working paper on Reform of the Electoral Laws, September 1998)

 

  1. The detailed Amendments to various Sections of the RP Act, 1951

Amendment of Section 8:

  1. In section 8 of the Principal Act, for the existing title, the following title shall be substituted:
  2. "Sec. 8 Disqualification for certain offences.
  3. For sub-sections (1) and (2), the following sub-sections shall be substituted:
    1. A person against whom charge has been framed under, or who has been convicted of an offence punishable under -
    1. Section 153A or section 171E or Section 171F or section 171G or section 171H or section 171I of sub-section (1) of sub-section (2) of section 376 or section 376A or section 376B or section 376C or section 376D or section 498A or Sub-section (2) or sub-suction (3) of section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860); or
    2. Section 11 of the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962); or
    3. Sections 10 to 12 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967); or
    4. The Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act, 1973 (46 of 1973); or
    5. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (61 of 1985); or
    6. Section 3 or section 4 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (28 of 1987); or
    7. Section 7 of the Religious Institutions (prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988 (41 of 1988); or
    8. Section 125 or section 135 or section 135 A or sub-section (2) or section 136 of this Act, shall be disqualified for a period of twelve years from the date of framing of such charge or such conviction as the case may be.

 

    1. A person convicted for the contravention of -
    1. any law providing for the preventing of hoarding or profiteering; or
    2. any law relating to the adulteration of food of drugs; or
    3. any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961); or
    4. any provisions of the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 (3 of 1987); or
    5. the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (22 of 1955); or
    6. any provisions of the Prevention of the Insults to National Honour Act, 1971
  • And sentenced to imprisonment for not less than six months shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release."(Page No.46-48)
    1. Amendments to Chapter IXA of the Indian Penal Core, 1860
  • Amendment of sections 171E, 171F, 171G, 171H and 171I of Indian Penal Code;
  • In chapter IXA of the Indian Penal Code, for sections 171E, 171F, 171G, 171H and 171I, the following sections shall be substituted:

  • "171E. Punishment for bribery. - Whoever commits the offence of bribery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

    171F. Punishment for undue influence or personation at an election. - Whoever commits the offence of undue influence of personation at an election shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

    171G. False statement in connection with an election. - Whoever with intent to affect the result of an election makes or publishes any statement purporting to be a statement of fact which is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, in relation to the personal character or conduct of any candidate shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

    171H. Illegal payments in connection with an election. - Whoever without the general or special authority in writing of a candidate incurs or authorises expenses on account of the holding of any public meeting, or upon any advertisement, circular or publication, or in any other way whatsoever for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of such candidate shall be punished with imprisonment of either description which may extend to three years and fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

    Provided that if any person having incurred any such expenses not exceeding the amount of ten rupees without authority obtains within ten days from the date on which such expenses were incurred, the approval in writing of the candidate, he shall be deemed to have incurred such expenses with the authority of the candidate.

    171I. Failure to keep election accounts. Whoever being required by any law for the time being in force of any rule having the force of law to keep accounts of expenses incurred at or in connection with an election fails to keep such accounts shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

  • 171J. Exceeding the prescribed limit of election expenses - Any candidate whose expenditure on election exceeds the amount prescribed under sub-section (3) of section 77, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine. (Pages No.73-75)


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