National

CB probe into false attestation of police postal ballots

Gazetted officers who facilitated the surrogate filing of postal ballots issued to police officers posted outside their constituencies on Lok Sabha poll duty by falsely attesting the requisite application (Form 13A) are likely to be charged with committing electoral fraud, according to senior law enforcement officers.

The Crime Branch (CB) is probing the postal voter fraud that had ensnared the Kerala Police Association (KPA) and the Police Department in a raging political controversy on the eve of elections.

The agency has requested District Collectors to turn in the Form 13A declaration submitted by the elector to the attesting officer. The signed declaration testifies to the identity of the voter and details the serial number of the postal ballot paper issued to him by the returning officer concerned.

The attesting officer has to authenticate the voters’ identity. He has to certify that the elector signed the declaration and marked the ballot paper in his presence. Officers said returning officers in Kerala had issued 39,338 postal ballots. The CB has to peruse the returned ballots to detect foul play. Investigators would verify whether the elector and the attesting officer were present together at the time of casting the postal ballot.

The CB would question officers who had attested a “suspiciously high” number of Form 13 A. It would also track the bulk movement of postal ballots to expose organised electoral fraud, if any.

The State government had ordered a CB probe after the Opposition raised a furore over the allegation that KPA representatives had collected postal ballots of scores of officers tasked for poll duty in a bid to commit voter fraud purportedly in favour of the ruling front.

A preliminary probe by the CB had found compelling evidence that at least three members of the police constabulary had attempted to amass postal ballots from “like-minded” colleagues.

S. Sreejith, Inspector General of Police, Crimes, is heading the probe. Superintendent of Police, CB, K.S. Sudharshan and DySP T.U. Ullas are assisting him.

Source: thehindu.com

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