The Election Commission (EC) informed the Kerala High Court on Friday that prosecution proceedings could be initiated against the culprits if the ongoing inquiry revealed any malpractice in the handling of postal ballots of the police personnel on election duty.
The EC also submitted that the alleged malpractice could also be questioned by way of an election petition before the election tribunal after the declaration of the results on May 23.
Courts were, in fact, barred from entertaining petitions relating to election matters once the election process was on.
Therefore, the petition filed by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala was not maintainable, the EC argued in a statement filed at the court.
Mr. Chennithala sought in his petition a directive to the EC to appoint an independent commission to inquire into the allegation that leaders of the Kerala Police Association had collected postal ballots of officers on election duty and marked votes by proxy in favour of Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidates.
The EC added that a comprehensive inquiry under the direct supervision of the Inspector General of Police, Crime Branch, Thiruvananthapuram, was in progress. The EC also said that the plea of the petitioner for withdrawing the postal ballots issued to police officers on election duty, which were yet to be tendered to the returning officer on the ground of reported fraud, and issue fresh ballots to those police personnel was squarely barred under Article 329 (b) (bar on interference by courts in electoral matters) of the Constitution.