EC to review penalty for ‘false plaint’

6 min read
  1. The Election Commission has decided to re-examine the Rule 49MA which prosecutes a voter for making a false complaint of malfunction of an electronic voting machine(EVM) or voter verifiable paper audit trail machine(VVPAT).
  2. Rule 49MA says that voter who claims that the EVM or the VVPAT machine did not record his or her vote correctly is allowed to cast a test vote under Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of Election Rules.
  3. However,if the voter fails to prove the mismatch,poll officials can initiate action under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code for giving a ‘false submission’.
  4. The Section also says that the person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or both.
  5. Recently,the Supreme Court had sought the Election Commission’s response on a plea which had asked the apex court to strike down Section 49MA under Conduct of Elections Rules,1961.
  6. The petitioner in its plea had said that Section 49MA was unconstitutional as it criminalised reporting of malfunctioning of EVM or VVPATs.The plea contended that the onus of proving an allegation cannot be on a voter when machines used for voting showed deviant behaviour.
  7. Further,the petitioner had also said that Section 49 MA deters people from coming forth to complain.The rule infringes upon a citizen’s right to freedom of expression which is a fundamental right of free expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

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