Friday, October 12, 2018

SC dismissed Cong netas’ petition against EC

Weeks before Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan go to polls, the Supreme Court dismissed pleas of senior Congress leaders challenging the fidelity of voter lists and said the Election Commission’s bona fides should not be doubted as it has built a reputation of impartiality.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan refused to give credence to allegations levelled by Congress chiefs of the three states — Kamal Nath, Sachin Pilot, and Bhupesh Baghel — against the panel while seeking directions to the EC to provide electoral lists in word format to detect fake voters.

The commission had refuted the allegations and told the court that elections could not be conducted according to “personal whims” and said the petitions were a gross abuse of law. The EC said the deficiencies in voter lists pointed out by the Congress leaders had been rectified.
In a strong rebuttal, the commission filed an affidavit through advocate Amit Sharma and said, “The petition is misconceived and malafide, as he is seeking to instruct/direct EC, which is a constitutional authority, to conduct elections according to his personal whims and fancies and that of the political party to which he stands affiliated... Thus, it is neither tenable nor proper that the petitioner (and the political party/organisation to which he is affiliated) is trying to forcibly instruct EC as to how to conduct elections or is trying to impose his suggestions upon EC.”
Accepting the plea of the commission, the bench said that “bona fides” of EC could not be doubted and turned down their plea for electoral list in word format as it was not allowed under the election manual.
“It is a matter of record that in the last 25-30 years, the EC has built a reputation of an impartial body which strives to hold fair elections. It is a constitutional authority and has been discharging its functions quite satisfactorily,” the court said.
The people, by and large, trusted the institution for its impartial manner of discharging its functions. “That is absolutely essential as well in a democratic polity where ‘we, the people’ elect representatives to the legislative assemblies of the state as well as Parliament at the Centre,” the bench said.
The court said the election manual did not entitle the petitioner to get the draft electoral roll in text mode which is searchable. “EC has given the reasons for not adhering to the request of the petitioner in providing draft electoral roll in searchable PDF format. According to it, issues of privacy of voters are involved and the move of EC is aimed at prevention of voter profiling and data mining,” the court said.
Elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram will be held between November 12 and December 7. Counting for all the states will be held on December 11.
A major issue raised by Nath pertained to duplicate and fake voters in the electoral list. He said Congress had made a detailed presentation to the EC on June 3 highlighting 60 lakh “duplicate, repeat, multiple, illegal, invalid and false entries” in the electoral rolls for MP.(PTI)

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