The Representation of the People Act, which was enacted in the year 1951, is being explained to voters, especially in the rural and the agency areas of Visakhapatnam and Vizianagaram districts, by election officials. The Representation of the People Act lists various offences by both candidates and voters, under different sections. The sections clearly list offences and punishments.
Detailing the reason behind generating awareness among the public, DRO Visakhapatnam, Reddy Gunniah said, “We are conducting various awareness programmes in rural and urban areas to make people understand the list of offences under the RP Act.”
He added that the district administration was generating awareness on the basis of the RP Act, which necessarily deals with gratification (pecuniary and other types) of electors and opposing candidates through various means.
He said, “Our purpose is to make the people aware of their responsibility to report to the authorities wherever and whenever there is such a violation.” He added that under Section 125, if there is a make effort to create trouble between communities and different social groups, the candidate could pay for it with a three-year jail term and a hefty fine.
The authorities pointed out that many were not aware of Section 126 of the RP Act, which deals with the offence of conducting public meetings 24 hours before the elections. Offenders have to serve a jail term of two years and/or a hefty fine.
In case of violence, Section 42 of the CrPC can be invoked and the person responsible could be arrested for a two-year term and also be fined Rs 2,000. In case somebody without a proper originality tries to stick posters and distribute pamphlets, he or she could be jailed for six months.
Regarding the process of voting, officials said the RP Act clearly states that for public voting the elector could also be taken into
custody. Candidates under Sections 131 and 132 must not campaign within 100 metres of a polling station. More importantly, they said vehicles must not be used to shepherd voters to polling stations, under Section 133.
Section 135 and various sub-sections deal with offences by polling officials and were also stressed on. “Our main intention is to make the elector use his discretion by empowering him through such information, so that he is made aware of what he should be doing and what should not be allowed.