Section 171I. Failure to keep election accounts

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IPC Section 171 I - Failure to keep election accounts


Elections stand of as paramount in a democracy like India, where a vote of every individual decides the future of the country. Elections in India are loved and praised like some other celebration. Each applicant who contests the elections put his blood and sweat to get the position yet at the same time couple of candidates or party members indulge into malpractices. In this way, it becomes essential to comprehend these offenses, punish the offender and keep up the holiness of the elections.

Under Chapter-IXA of the Indian Penal Code, which was introduced by the Indian Elections Offences and Inquiries Act of 1920, includes sections 171A to 171I which deal with any offences relating to elections. The addition was made citing the restricted participation allowed to the Indians in government by the British ruled Government.

These sections are vital for making such offenses punishable to guarantee free and reasonable elections. Activities, for example, pay off (bribery), undue influence, personation, and other such acts of neglect during elections which hamper one's right to make choice openly have been made punishable under the provisions. The goal of this Act and the provisions under the IPC is to guarantee that the citizens can cast a ballot uninhibitedly with no dread and have a genuine portrayal of the applicants [1].


Representation of People’s Act (RPA) which was introduced in the year of 1950, was the first Act post-independence which provided for a comprehensive framework covering the laws related to elections. Detailed provisions pertinent to conduct and nature of elections for the Parliament and State Legislature was laid down by the enactment.

Despite any such institutions, provisions of IPC actually hold extraordinary significance as they are appropriate not exclusively to decisions to Parliament or State Legislatures however any sort of elections, such as- elections to district boards, municipalities, village panchayats [2].

Section 171 I of IPC

Section 171 I of IPC states - Whoever being required by any law for the time being in force or any rule having the force of law to keep accounts of expenses incurred at or in connection with an election fails to keep such accounts shall be punished with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

In simple words - Whosoever with an aim to influence the result of a political decision means election makes or distributes the statement of facts on personal character or lead that is bogus and he/she knows or trusts it to be bogus or doesn't really accept that the statement of facts to be true then such an offender will be punished with fine.

The intention behind enacting this provision is to maintain and check and balance on the expenditure which is being incurred by the candidates. The objective of these sections is to avoid any malpractices related to elections. Likewise, it is an attempt to protect the establishment's virtue. It guarantees that candidate himself and/or potentially his gathering individuals who may adopt certain unfair and corrupt practices in order to make their position are punished.

In every fair country, the political race/determination of a particular individual of their choice among different possibilities for releasing certain obligations is seen as the standard right of an individual. Degenerate practices and offenses identified with the political race are those which meddle in the free exercise of the option to cast a ballot and incorporate pay off, excessive impact, and so on…

Classification of Offence

• Punishment provided - Fine of 500 rupees

• Types of offence - Non-cognisable

• Nature of offence – Bailable

• Trial Court Details - Magistrate of the first class

The section basically necessitates the candidate to maintain accounts of the expenditure done in an election [3].

Who is a ‘CANDIDATE’?

The foremost thought that comes to our head when we hear of elections is- Who is the candidate? In this manner it gets important to comprehend according to the law who is ‘candidate’ and what is their 'electoral right'.

Section 171A of the IPC reads as – “Candidate” means a person who has been nominated as a candidate at any election; “Electoral right” means the right of a person to stand, or not to stand as, or to withdraw from being, a candidate or to vote or refrain from voting at an election.

Excerpts from the IPC

The Action taken under Section 171 I OF THE IPC is to be taken by the Police Officer. However, if the Police officer is not able to take action inspite of the offence being carried out, the Executive Magistrate may ask whether verbally or writing to his counterpart Police Officer to take necessary action [4].

Procedural Details

A proper account of election expenditure is required to be provided by political parties and contesting candidates to the Election Commission of India (ECI) after the conclusion of the Elections within 90 days after the completion of the elections. Not keeping of election accounts or not submitting it to the ECI within prescribed period is a corrupt practice and offence.

Similarly, within 30 days after the conclusion of the elections, all contesting candidates are required to produce an expenditure statement before the ECI. Political parties are supposed to provide details of lump sum amounts provided to contesting candidates; they are also required to provide details on amounts received to the ECI.

Related Case

In Mast ram v. State of Punjab [5], case the petitioner submitted the accounts but there were mistakes in it. The court held that the Section 171 (I) applies to that candidate who has not kept records of accounts of election expenses and not to the candidate who contested the election and kept the account in an irregular manner.


From the whole scheme of this chapter it will be clear that it provides for the punishment of malpractices in connection with elections and attempts to safeguard the purity of the franchises. Then, the very idea of personation connotes knowledge of or advertence to the act of pretending to be some other person. In fact, it implies false pretense. The only intention which is to be found in the section and which is the mental element requisite to a conviction is the intention to personate at the election for one who is a voter

Elections guarantee that the elected body which runs the government is chosen in a reasonable and bonafide way. Individuals that structure democracy (vote based system) have a legal right to make their choice unreservedly and choose their representatives. Elections are attempted to be completed with no offense being made yet at the same time on the off chance that such things occur, at that point punishment is awarded to the individual committing it.


  5. 1995 SCC (2) SCC 744