Section 171A – “Candidate” and “Electoral right” defined –
This section defines the two terminologies for an easier understanding of the whole chapter.
As per clause (a) of the section, “candidate” means any person, for the purpose of the election, has been nominated as a candidate so that he/she can contest in the election.
As per clause (b) of the section, “electoral right” means such right of any person, whether to contest, or not to contest as a candidate, or to withdraw from such candidacy, or to vote or refrain himself/herself from voting at any election.
Section 171B – Bribery –
This section explains the term bribery.
Sub-section (1) (i) explains that any person who gives a gratification, i.e., gives a reward voluntarily for some benefit without the request of the other party, either rewarded explicitly or by implication, to any person, with the main agenda of inducing such person or any other person to exercise an electoral right as defined under clause (b) of Section 171A, or;
Sub-section (1) (ii) explains that if a person himself/herself accepts any kind of gratification as a reward to carry out their right or for inducing or attempting to induce another person from carrying out or exercising such electoral right;
Is deemed to have committed the offence of bribery.
Sub-section (2) explains that any person who either offers or agrees to give or offers or attempts to procure, a gratification i.e., obtains such gratification by particular care and effort, is deemed to have given a gratification.
Sub-section (3) explains that any person who has obtained or has agreed to accept or has attempted to obtain any such gratification is deemed to have accepted a gratification. Any person accepting such gratification with a motive of doing what he/she did not originally intend to do before obtaining such gratification, or as a reward for doing what he/she had not done, is deemed to have accepted such gratification as a reward.
Section 171C – Undue influence at elections –
Before we go into the content of Section 171C, it is essential to understand what undue influence is. Section 16 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 defines Undue Influence. If any person agrees to do something or agrees to abstain from doing something because of the dominance of the other party and ends up doing or abstaining from doing the said act, is said to have done or abstained from doing it under undue influence. The person dominating the will of the other person was able to obtain an unfair advantage over the other person.
Section 171C explains who is said to have used undue influence at elections.
Sub-section (1) explains that any person who voluntarily interferes or attempts to interfere, i.e., to disrupt the right of any person from carrying out the free electoral right is said to have committed the offence of undue influence at the election.
Sub-section (2) explains that without any preconception to the provision of sub-section (1), clause (a) says that any person who threatens with injury of any kind a candidate or any voter, or any person in whom the candidate of election or voter might be interested in, or
Clause (b) says that any person who induces or attempts to induce any candidate of election or any voter to believe that they or any person the candidate of election or voter might be interested in is subject to any divine displeasure or spiritual censure
Is said to have interfered with their free exercise to carry out a free electoral right of such candidate or voter.
For further explanation of divine displeasure or spiritual censure, it means a criticism of anything that opposes the human spirit from the material things or physical things.
Sub-section (3) any person who declares a public policy or any promise relating to public action where he/she does not have any intention to interfere with the free electoral right cannot be held under this section from undue influence.
Section 171D – Personation at elections –
Any person who applies for a voting paper in the name of another person, whether the person is alive or not, or if the name used is a fictitious name, i.e., a name that is imaginary, or the name of the person who has already voted in such election, applies for voting again, is deemed to be guilty of personation.
Also, any person who abets or attempts to procure a voting paper with the use of the name of another person is guilty of the offence of personation. It should be noted that if a person is authorized to vote as a proxy, i.e., the authority to represent someone else, for such elector under any law which is in force at that time being, cannot be deemed to have committed the offence of personation.
Section 171E – Punishment for Bribery –
This section explains that any person who commits the offence of bribery must be punished with imprisonment as per description for a term which might extend to a period of one year, or with a fine, or can be punished with both imprisonment and fine.
It is further explained that if bribery is done by treating then such a person must be punished with only a fine. Bribery by treating means that the candidate instead of money has offered material incentives to the people to induce them to vote for him/her, such as food.
Section 171F – Punishment for undue influence or personation –
This section explains that any person committing an offence as describes under Section 171C or 171D must be punished with imprisonment as per description for a term which might extend to one year, or with fine, or both.
Section 171G – False Statement in connection with an election –
Any person who publishes a statement claiming to be true but with the knowledge that it is false, the statement concerning the personal character or conduct of any candidate of election, such a person shall be punished with a fine.
Section 171H – Illegal payments in connection with the election –
Any person who advertises, promotes, or incurs expenses for such acts, for the purpose of promoting any candidate for election and for doing so has not obtained any legal authority shall be punished with a fine which might extend to Rs. 500.
Provided that if any person who has incurred such expenses without authority for the purpose of promotion of the candidate for election, the amount not exceeding Rs. 10,000 obtains within 10 days from the date of the expenses incurred the approval of the candidate in writing, then such a person is deemed to have incurred the expenses with the authority of the candidate.
Section 171-I – Failure to keep election accounts –
Any person who fails to keep the proper accounts of the expenses incurred for the purpose of election, as required by the law in force at that time being, or any other rule having the force of law to keep accounts, shall be punished with a fine which might extend to Rs. 500.
The above sections fall under Chapter IXA of the Indian Penal Code which deals with the offences related to elections. Though there are punishments for offences but with the passage of time and advancements, it is suggested that the punishments become more severe for any such offences committed. Elections are a very important part of democratic nations. There are many offences committed which whether known or not know to the public or the authorities at large and left unnoticed. People will automatically abide by the law if the punishments become more severe. Corruptions are the biggest one that needs to be taken care of. Tampering of evidence takes place, perjury and many other ways are used to escape from punishments, such things must be highly considered and punishments must be made accordingly rather than a simple fine.