Friday, December 8, 2023

Supreme Court seeks response from ECI on plea to introduce e-voting to enhance citizen’s access to right to vote

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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on a plea seeking facilitation of e-voting system to enhance the citizen’s access to voting by decentralizing the voting system.

The bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian has sought response from the Election Commission of India and the Central government. The petition has been filed by K. Sathyan has further sought the striking down of Section 60 (C) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 to the extent which it says not in any other manner as unjust, illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

The petitioner has also sought for a direction to the government to take steps to ensure that access to voting is ensured to all registered voters who are stationed outside the constituency, like internal migrant workers, internal migrant employees, business personal and students.   

The petitioner has also stressed on the need to ensure conduct of free and fair election by utilizing technological advancements to prevent electoral malpractices.

The petitioner has submitted that the phrase “ordinarily resident” is defined in Section 20 of the Representation of People Act, 1950 in the context of persons who are entitled to enroll as voters in the electoral roll. The term requires a pragmatic understanding and application in keeping with the current times, to bring out the legislative intent behind the provision. The vast majority of the population who now reside temporarily away from their constituency, for many reasons including profession, occupation, trade, business, education, marriage etc are disentitled from the freedom to cast their vote in violation of their  fundamental right of expression under Article 19(1)(a).”

It has thus been submitted that omission to include the categories of persons stationed outside their constituency, form the category of persons enjoying the right to vote through postal ballots is arbitrary and violative of their fundamental rights under Article 14, 19(1)(a), 19(1)(d), 19(1)(g) and 21 and the right to vote under Article 326.

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