Is it an offence to have two Voter IDs for election in...

Is it an offence to have two Voter IDs for election in India?

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Question: A person has enrolled as a voter at two different places in India and he has Voter IDs at both these places. Can a complaint be filed against him? Is it an offence?

Answer: Yes, it is an offence if a person has two Voter IDs and has enrolled at two different places as a voter, provided he has done so by making false statement or declaration.

It may be pointed out that as per Section 17 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, no person can be enrolled as a voter in more than one constituency:

17. No person to be registered in more than one constituency.— No person shall be entitled to be registered in the electoral roll for more than one constituency.”

Likewise, as per Section 18 of the above Act, no person can be enrolled as a voter more than once in the same constituency:

 “18. No person to be registered more than once in any constituency.—No person shall be entitled to be registered in the electoral roll for any constituency more than once.”

Thus, the net effect is that a person can be enrolled as a voter only once anywhere in India.

Section 31 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, is also relevant in this regard:

31. Making false declarations.—If any person makes in connection with—

(a) the preparation, revision or correction of an electoral roll, or

(b) the inclusion or exclusion of any entry in or from an electoral roll,

a statement or declaration in writing which is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.”

It is pertinent to point out that if a person gets himself enrolled as a voter twice (or more number of times) and has two Voter IDs, he is liable for the offence under the above Section 31.

Thus, it is an offence to have two Voter IDs if the person has himself obtained these two Voter IDs by making a false declaration or statement.

However, the above offence under Section 31 is a non-cognizable offence and the police does not have the power to register FIR and investigate the offence without the orders of the Magistrate, as required under Section 155(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.). In the case of Keshav Lal Thakur v. State of Bihar, (1996) 11 SCC 557, the Supreme Court has clearly held that offence under Section 31 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, is a non-cognizable offence.

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