The Election Commission (EC) on Monday wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Personnel and Training here to entrust the probe into reports of “horse-trading, corruption and exchange of money” in the countermanded March 30 Rajya Sabha poll for two seats in Jharkhand and similar incidents of use of money power witnessed in that State and Odisha during Rajya Sabha polls in 2010 to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Stating this to The Hindu, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi added that the Commission would soon request President Pratibha Devisingh Patil to issue fresh notification to fill up the two seats from Jharkhand as they could not be kept vacant for too long.
The Jharkhand High Court, while ordering a CBI investigation on Thursday, had said: “Since it is a grave case of involvement of money power, horse trading and influence relating to process of election”, wherein voters were MLAs, “we deem it proper to direct the EC to hand over the matter to CBI so far as criminality of any other persons is involved.”
The EC's letter to the Personnel department referred to the reports of “use of money power” during biennial elections to Rajya Sabha held in 2010 in Jharkhand and Odisha and wanted the CBI probe these incidents too. “...The Commission desires that the whole matter relating to elections to the Rajya Sabha be entrusted to the CBI for thorough investigation and for bringing the culprits to book so that the pristine purity of elections to the Rajya Sabha is maintained and the glory and prestige of the Upper House is not tarnished by the entry of those who have secured election by unfair means of bribery of voters,” the letter said.
Mr. Quraishi said the Commission's move to write to the Centre for a CBI investigation was based on the order of the Jharkhand High Court and also a decision in this regard taken by the EC on April 4.
The letter pointed out that it directed the Jharkhand Chief Secretary to initiate criminal proceedings against six MLAs — Rajesh Ranjan, Uma Shankar Akela, Simon Marandi, Teklal Mahto, Yogendra Sao and Sawan Lakra under Section 171B/171E of IPC and Sections 8 and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 after allegations of abuse of money power surfaced after biennial elections to Rajya Sabha in Jharkhand in 2010. Later an FIR was lodged against the MLAs by the State Vigilance Bureau.
“Though the matter is understood to be under investigation by the State police authorities, no substantive progress has so far been reported to the Commission into such investigation.”
In Odisha, too, a media sting operation exposed certain MLAs demanding huge amounts of money from some candidates for voting in their favour at the biennial election to the Rajya Sabha in June, 2010. The Commission had directed the Odisha Chief Secretary to file an FIR in the matter. “Here, too, hardly any progress seems to have been made in the investigation by the State police authorities,” the EC's letter claimed.