The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Election Commission (EC) to peruse a petition that claimed the “mean act” of cash-for-votes was on the rise in Tamil Nadu.
Citing the recent pre-dawn Income Tax raids in the premises of DMK leaders in Vellore district, the petition, filed by K.K. Ramesh who introduced himself as a social worker, said the act of buying votes denied “an equal voice for some voters and an equal chance for some candidates”.
“Taking money for casting votes in favour of a candidate is a mean act like auctioning the self-esteem of an individual. Voters should shun cash for their votes,” the petition said.
A Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked Mr. Ramesh to serve the copy of his petition to the ECI counsel.
The petition claimed that over ₹11 crore was seized from a Vellore cement godown, which is learnt to be that of a DMK functionary. The incident “confirmed the ECI’s worst fears about the influence of money in the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu”.
The petition cited reports that so far ₹78.12 crore had been seized and more than ₹10,000 crore could be “pumped in” into the State. All the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry had been designated as “expenditure sensitive,” it said.
Publicity through media
The petition sought heightened publicity through the media on the evil of buying votes. It sought the court to direct the ECI to increase the number of the latter’s flying squads in the State.
Further, the petition said, if elections were cancelled or postponed suddenly because some candidates tried to buy votes for cash, the entire expenses incurred by the ECI so far for the conduct of the elections should be recovered from the erring candidates.
The petition also sought a direction by the ECI to take action against leaders of political parties for installing flexiboards and temporary daises along, or even worse, blocking public thoroughfares.