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Gram Panchayat polls: Bombay High Court rejects PIL seeking inclusion of those who turned 18 after May 31, 2022 in electoral list

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The Bombay High Court has dismissed a PIL seeking directions to respondents for including the names of persons who attained the age of 18 years after the cut-off date of May 31, 2022 in the electoral list for the election of the Gram Panchayat, to be held in the State of Maharashtra on December 18.

Siddhesh Pilankar, Counsel for the petitioner, submitted that there are many young persons who have attained the age of 18 years after May 2022. They should also be allowed to exercise the right of franchise in the upcoming election of Gram panchayat. 

The Counsel for the petitioner further  submitted that the Election Commission has specified four qualifying dates – 1 January, 1st April, 1 July and 1 October instead of one qualifying date of 1st January. The Counsel added that in view of the amendment to Rule 26A of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, the Election Commission is also required to make the necessary amendment.

On the other hand, the counsel for the  Election Commission argued that as per Section 12 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act, the electoral roll of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly prepared under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and in force on such day as the State Election Commission may by order notify shall be the list of voters for such ward or village.

The counsel further argued that similar challenge is negatived by the High Court under the order dated 12 October, 2022 in another petition.

The Division Bench of Justice S.V. Gangapurwala and Justice S.G. Dige  after considering the submissions observed that Section 12 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act  provides that the electoral roll of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly prepared under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, and in force on such day as the State Election Commissioner may by order notify in this behalf for such part of the constituency of the Assembly as is included in a ward or a village shall be the list of voters for such ward or village. Section 12 gives authority and power to the State Election Commission to notify the cut-off date.

The State Election Commission has already issued the notification thereby prescribing the date May 31, 2022 as the cutoff date for inclusion of the names in the electoral roll. It needs to be considered that the final electoral roll is also published on June 22, 2022. The process of preparation of the electoral roll has come to an end, the High Court ruled.

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