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Above: A man casting his vote inside a polling booth in India. Photo: UNI

The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud gave some critical directions regarding election processes, specific to the upcoming Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat elections.

The bench decreed on Monday (October 30) that the Election Commission of India (ECI) must not appoint officers facing disciplinary proceedings to any key post during the upcoming elections. The bench also refused to rule on a prayer for the installation of CCTV cameras in polling booths, while agreeing that there can be display boards installed which will tell the number of people who have voted.

These are general orders, but they also become specific to the upcoming assembly elections.

The judgment was in reaction to a plea filed by the Congress party, seeking directions to the ECI to frame guidelines for counting of votes through VVPAT machines in the upcoming Gujarat poll and other elections.

Prakash Joshi, secretary of All India Congress Committee, had moved the top court, also seeking a direction to the ECI to install CCTV cameras inside polling booths to watch the “mobility of persons inside”.

There was no direction given by the top court on VVPAT-enabled EVMs.

On Monday the petitioner requested the court to order the ECI to file a written reply as the Gujarat elections are coming. He also claimed that the ECI guidelines are not in the public domain, to which the counsel for the ECI said all guidelines are on the website.

Attorney General K K Venugopal said: “There are four prayers and we have to go through them one by one.”

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal said when mock elections were organised, all votes went to only one party. “It is totally unfair.” He observed.

Regarding ECI officials, the court’s directive was to Joshi’s plea that sifting through ECI officials would “ensure free and fair election”.

The Court did not agree to CCTV cameras, to “watch the mobility of persons inside the polling booth”.

—India Legal Bureau

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