16 Aug 2023 6:30 AM GMT
The Telangana High Court has quashed a criminal case alleging electoral misconduct by an Ex-Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLA. Justice K. Lakshman held noted that "as on the date of the alleged video clipping, the election process was not set on motion. Without considering the said aspects, 2nd respondent lodged a complaint with the Station House Officer, Sadasivnagar Police Station, who in...
The Telangana High Court has quashed a criminal case alleging electoral misconduct by an Ex-Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLA.
Justice K. Lakshman held noted that "as on the date of the alleged video clipping, the election process was not set on motion. Without considering the said aspects, 2nd respondent lodged a complaint with the Station House Officer, Sadasivnagar Police Station, who in turn, registered a case in Cr.No.107 of 2018. Thus, prima facie, the contents of the complaint dated 03.10.2018 lacks the ingredients of offence under Section 171-E of IPC.”
The allegations against the petitioner, E. Ravinder Reddy, who was the candidate for TRS (now BRS) from the Yella Reddy Assembly Constituency in 2018 was that he had offered women of a Self-Help Group (SHG) from Markal Village 5 Lakh Rupees (5,00,000/-) for construction of a SHG building as incentive in exchange for a hundred percent of their votes. The Tahsildar and Executive Magistrate FAC, Sadashivnagar who filed the complaint, stated that the apparent incident was broadcasted on various news channels and was confirmed by a report submitted by the District Educational Officer (DEO).
The complainant had contended that under section 171-B of the Indian Penal Code, the actions of the petitioner would amount to the offence of bribery and were punishable under section 171-E.
The Counsel on behalf of the petitioner brought to the notice of the Court that the Press Note issued by the Election Commission of India stated that the final Electoral Rolls (which are a list of eligible voters) would be released on 12th October 2018. However, the complaint preferred by the Complainant was on 3rd October, 2018, much before the final press rolls were released.
The petitioner further contended that since the complaint was registered before the release of Electoral Rolls, it was impossible to say that elections were held on that day, and fraud was committed, since the petitioner would have no motive to give bribes.
The Additional Public Prosecutor on behalf of the State contended that the petitioner had been announced as the candidate from the TRS (BRS) in respect of Yellareddy constituency, and for all practical reasons was to be considered as the contesting candidate. Additionally, it was stated that, the 5 lakhs were promised after the formation of majority government and that there were several factual aspects that were to be considered, before final disposal.
The Court after pursuing section 171 of IPC concluded that, for a crime to have been said to be committed under section 171-B the necessary ingredients need to be present. The Court observed that the section mandates “object of inducing that person to exercise any electoral right, or of rewarding that person for having exercised any such right”.
“There is no dispute that the complaint cannot be quashed at the threshold and the Investigating Officer has to conduct investigation with regard to several factual aspects mentioned in the complaint. But, at the same time, a plain reading of the complaint would reveal that the contents of the complaint dated 03.10.2018 lacks the ingredients of the offence alleged against the petitioner herein,” it held.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Tel) 37
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