Madras High Court Warns Against Voter Gratification During Elections

Madras HC criticizes voter gratification in elections, warns of undermining democracy. Justice Pugalendhi highlights Rs 4,650 cr seized in current polls. Case: Dhanalakshmi v Sub Inspector.

Justice B Pugalendhi of the Madurai bench criticized the practice of offering money, food, or prizes to voters during elections, stating it undermines democracy. He lamented the lenient punishment of one-year imprisonment for such offences, noting a rise in gratification cases, with Rs 4,650 crores seized in the current elections.

"In recent times, gratifications are given to voters, which could destroy the constitution and democracy. The legislature hasn't addressed this issue seriously, resulting in increased incidents," the court remarked.

The court addressed pleas seeking to quash FIRs related to gratification during the 2011 elections, noting delays in filing final reports and procedural lapses. Despite Election Commission efforts to curb bribery, inadequate penalties led to cases filed for statistical purposes without effective prosecution.

Concerns were raised over low conviction rates and selective prosecution. The court ordered the State to provide details of bribery cases from recent elections and urged the Election Commission to propose measures for prevention.