Rectify Discrepancies In Voters’ List To Ensure Free & Fair Conduct Of Elections: Karnataka HC Directs Election Commission
The Karnataka High Court has directed the Election Commission of India to rectify the discrepancies in the voters’ list of the Shivajinagar and Shantinagar Assembly constituencies in Bengaluru to ensure free and fair conduct of the elections. The Court pronounced its judgment while dealing with the pleas filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and one of its party workers.
A Single Bench of Justice M. Nagaprasanna held, “… even in this case concerning Shanthinagar constituency, the Commission is required to begin to act swiftly; beginning today and in view of the paucity of time and the impending urgency, the Commission shall conclude the aforesaid exercise on or before 26.03.2023, for which, the Commission is at liberty to regulate the procedure in compliance with the aforesaid direction. The Commission must bear in mind that these discrepancies are to be rectified for the conduct of elections, to be free and fair. Elections being free and fair, is the paramount essence of democracy, in fact, it is the life blood of a democracy.”
The Bench said that such pleas are a reminder that the elections are around the corner and as always disputes regarding the pre-election process galore.
Senior Advocate Vivek Reddy represented the petitioner while Advocates Dodwad S.R. and V.G. Bhanuprakash represented the respondents.
Brief Facts -
The petitioner approached the Court seeking consideration of the representations for corrective measures to be taken in the electoral roll concerning the Shivajinagar Assembly Constituency of the Karnataka State. It was contended that voters who are either dead or have shifted out of the constituency have not been identified.
It was also argued that the duplication of names on the voters' lists has also not been eliminated. During the enquiry, the EC found 11,000 such voters who were either dead or had shifted out of Shivajinagar and out of these, 9,195 shifted their residence while the others were dead.
The High Court after hearing the contentions of both parties noted, “The notices that had been issued to 9195 voters have generated reply of 914 voters confirming that they are staying in the constituency and those 914 names are continued in the electoral roll. Therefore, what remains as an action to be taken is qua 8281 names in the electoral roll, as it is admitted that insofar as 8281 names of voters in the electoral roll are concerned, the Commission is yet to take it to its logical end.”
The Court further noted that if a direction is issued to the EC to begin to act swiftly and undertake the exercise taking the issue to its logical conclusion, what remains is action to be taken qua 8281 voters who have been already identified by the BLO’s as shifted voters and 1847 voters who are dead, whose names find place in the final electoral roll.
“Therefore the said action of taking it to its logical conclusion, which shall be in consonance with the Act, the Rules, guidelines and circulars with particular reference to Rule 21A of the Representation of the People Act and Rules, 1950/1951”, observed the Court.
The Court said that the Commission is required to begin to act swiftly; beginning today and in view of the paucity of time and the impending urgency, it shall conclude the said exercise on or before March 26.
“The Commission admits that the discrepancy is qua 2773 voters, out of whom, shifted voters are 2247 voters against whom show cause notices are issued and are awaiting a reply. The rest of the voters are those who have died and as observed hereinabove, the Commission has called for information from the Registrar of Births and Deaths to declare them to be deleted from the voters list. Therefore, the submissions, observations, directions issued supra concerning Shivajinagar Constituency would become applicable to the case at hand as well”, asserted the Court.
The Court, therefore, directed that the exercise concerning Shanthinagar constituency shall also be undertaken strictly in consonance with the Act, Rules, guidelines, and circulars with reference to Rule 21A of the Representation of the People Act and Rules, 1950 / 1951.
Accordingly, the Court issued necessary directions to the EC.
Cause Title- M.G. Pradeep v. Election Commission of India & Ors.