Thursday, February 22, 2024

Plea before Supreme Court seeks common electoral roll for parliamentary and assembly elections

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A plea has come to the Supreme Court today seeking a common electoral roll for the parliamentary, assembly and local body polls as well compensation for those have been denied the right to vote due to deletion from the voters list for no known reasons.

This plea filed by a group of people including MG Devasahayam, a former Haryana-cadre IAS officer who himself has served as returning officer during several polls in the past.

The former IAS officer said that the right to vote is basic feature of a democratic set up and any deprivation of the same interferes with the conduct of free and fair elections.

The petition mentions that there have been innumerous instances where the elector has reached the polling booth only to be deprived of the right to cast a vote due to deletion of voter data from the electoral roll.

This type of confusion creates lot of irritation and anger in voter particularly in instances where their names may have been present in one electoral roll and are absent in another.

The plea, has therefore, sought directions to the Election Commission for appointing senior civil servants from outside the State where electors’ registration and deletion processes are under way, for ensuring accuracy and objectivity in voters list.

The petitioners have asked that Rule 18 of the Registration Of Electors Rules, that allows confirmation of objections to inclusion in voters’ lists without any inquiry, be declared unconstitutional.

The matter came up for hearing, before the a Bench of Justices KM Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy who directed that a copy of the public interest litigation (PIL) petition should be served on counsel for the Union government and the Election Commission of India (ECI).

The petition filed through advocate Aakarsh Kamra, and settled by advocates Sarim Naved and Anshu Dhar asked that the names of the people who succumbed COVID-19 pandemic should be deleted from the list as well.

The petitioner contended that provisions of the Registration Of Electors Rules confer ‘wide discretionary powers on the Registration Officer’ to rectify errors, ‘without any provision for the affected parties to be notified or heard’.

The plea further added that linking of the Aadhaar numbers with the voter cards will not be the panacea it is being claimed.

The petitioners also said that it is the prime responsibility of the ECI to ensure that eligible voters are included in electoral rolls.

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