It has finalised a road map on how to conduct the investigation

The Crime Branch (CB) has told the government that it could take a call on framing charges, if any, in the postal voter fraud scandal that has beset the Police Department only after counting day on May 23.

Officials privy to the probe said returning officers had issued 39,338 ballots in all to police officers posted elsewhere for election duty. An estimated 12,644 votes were returned. May 23 was the last date for receiving absentee votes via post.

The CB has finalised a road map on how to conduct the absentee voter fraud investigation. For one, it would check the addresses from which the postal ballots were mailed and whether there was any suspicious bulk mailing of absentee votes to returning officers.

Investigators would also examine the entire process by which each postal ballot was received and later cast after attestation. They would also check whether there was any mismatch between the duty location of the absentee voter and place from which he or she had cast the postal ballot. The agency was pursuing leads that indicated casting of absentee votes by proxy.

The agency has recommended disciplinary action against two police officials attached to the Bekal station in Kozhikode for having denied 33 of their fellow officers to cast their votes by post by deliberately delaying their application to the returning officer for receiving the absentee ballots.

It has already booked an officer for having gathered postal votes from politically "like-minded" colleagues.

The scandal had put the police in a spot after the Opposition alleged that political schemers in the Kerala Police Association had with the sanction of their supervisors hatched the plot to cast absentee ballots of officers by proxy in favour of the ruling front to curry favour with the government.

S. Sreejith, IG Crimes, is heading the probe. A team led by SP, CB, K.S. Sudharshan and Dy.SP T.U. Ullas is assisting him.

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