back to top
IndiaPublishing polling booth-wise data will 'vitiate' electoral space: EC

Publishing polling booth-wise data will ‘vitiate’ electoral space: EC

Date:

NEW DELHI, May 23: The Election Commission has opposed in the Supreme Court an NGO's demand to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the , contending it will “vitiate” the electoral space and cause “chaos” in the poll machinery in the midst of the general elections.

A vacation bench of Justices Dipankar Datta and Satish Chandra Sharma is scheduled to hear the plea of NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms', which has also sought direction to the poll panel that scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded) of all polling stations be uploaded immediately after the polls.
In its counter affidavit, the poll panel said there is no legal mandate to provide Form 17C to any person other than the candidate or his agent.
It said that public posting of Form 17C – which gives the number of votes polled in a polling station – is not provided in the statutory framework and could lead to mischief and vitiation of the entire electoral space as it increases the possibility of the images being morphed.
“The Petitioner is trying to create an entitlement when none exists in the law by way of filing an application in the middle of the election period. It is respectfully reiterated that for credible multiple practical reasons, the result as per the statutory mandate, is declared on the basis of the data contained in Form 17C at the time as prescribed under the statutory rule regime in existence,” it said.
It further said that “indiscriminate disclosure” of polling station-wise voter turnout data and posting it on a website will cause chaos in the election machinery which is already in motion for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
The EC also dismissed as false and misleading the allegation that there was “5-6” per cent difference between the voter turnout data released on the day of the polling for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha elections and the press releases issued subsequently. The NGO claimed the final voter turnout data jumped sharply from the initial figures released by the poll panel.
The Election Commission's 225-page affidavit said, “It is submitted that if the reliefs sought by the petitioner is allowed, it will not only be in teeth of the aforesaid legal position but will also cause chaos in the election machinery which is already in motion for the ongoing General Elections to the Lok Sabha, 2024.” It said the petitioner NGO ‘Association of Democratic Reforms' has failed to mention a single instance where candidates or voters had filed an election petition on the basis of the allegations raised by the petitioner with respect to the Lok Sabha election in 2019.
“This indicates that the allegation of discrepancies in voter turnout data made by the petitioner in the main petition as well as the present application is misleading, false and based on mere suspicion,” it said.
The poll panel said there are certain elements and vested interests who keep on throwing baseless and false allegations, creating an unwarranted atmosphere of suspicion in the close proximity of time of conduct of every election by the Election Commission of , to somehow discredit the same.
“It is most humbly submitted that there is a consistent malafide campaign/ design/efforts to keep on raising suspicion and doubt in every possible manner and by misleading assertions and baseless allegations regarding the conduct of elections by the Election Commission of India,” the poll panel said, as it sought dismissal of the NGO's plea.
The EC added that the legal regime with regard to Form 17C is peculiar in that while it authorises the polling agent at the close of the poll to get a copy of Form 17C, a general disclosure of the nature as sought by the petitioner is not provided in the statutory framework.
“It is submitted that a wholesome disclosure of Form 17C is amenable to mischief and vitiation of the entire electoral space.
“At the moment, the original Form 17C is only available in the Strong Room and a copy only with the polling agents whose signature it bears. Therefore, there is a one-to-one relationship between each Form 17C and its possessor,” it said.
The poll panel added that “indiscriminate disclosure” and public posting on the website increases the possibility of the images being morphed, including the counting results which then can create widespread public discomfort and mistrust in the entire electoral process.
The poll panel said, “Further, it is submitted that the Petitioner has specifically relied on the voter turnout data published by the answering respondent with respect to the first two phases of the ongoing General Elections to the Lok Sabha, 2024 and has alleged that there was an increase of 5-6% in the voter turnout data released on the day of polling and in the subsequent press releases for each of the two phases.
“In this regard, it is submitted that the aforesaid allegation is misleading and is unsubstantiated.” It added that the Rules do not permit the giving of a copy of Form 17C to any other entity.
On May 17, the top court had sought within a week a response from the Election Commission on the NGO's plea seeking a direction to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
The ADR has filed an interim application in its 2019 PIL seeking directions to the poll panel that “scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded)” of all polling stations be uploaded immediately after the polls. (PTI)

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

Share post:

Popular

More like this
Related

PM to release Rs 20,000 cr for farmers on June 18

NEW DELHI, June 15: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will...

Statutory bail granted to Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah in PMLA Case

New Delhi, June 15 : Delhi’s Patiala House Court...

Amit Shah to review J&K Security Situation today

New Delhi, Jun 15: Union Home Minister Amit Shah...

Delhi Police seizes over 200 kg of ‘ganja’ from truck, 4 held

New Delhi, June 15: Four persons were arrested while...