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Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Sanjiv Khanna and Deepak Gupta, JJ has has asked 21 opposition parties to file response over the Election Commission’s affidavit in a case where the Parties sought direction that 50 per cent EVM results should be matched and cross-checked with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) before the declaration of results in the upcoming General Elections. The bench directed the 21 opposition parties (petitioners) to file a rejoinder to the affidavit of the poll panel before April 8.

On Friday, the Election Commission (EC) of India, in an affidavit, told the court that there is no need to increase VVPAT count to match it with EVM. It had said that the existing system is full-proof and more VVPAT  count means 6 days delay in the counting of votes in Lok Sabha election. The court had directed EC to file an affidavit on why physical verification of VVPATs should not be extended to more than one polling station per Assembly segment.

The court is hearing a plea filed by 21 opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking a random count of VVPAT slips of at least 50 per cent EVMs in each Assembly constituency before the declaration of Lok Sabha election results. The petition has challenged the decision of the Commission to check VVPATs of only one randomly selected booth of a constituency. The petitioners have said that this will account only for 0.44 per cent of the votes polled.

(Source: ANI)

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Supreme Court: The Court has ssued a notice to the Election Commission regarding alleged non-implementation of the top court’s past order of publishing the criminal record of candidates in newspapers. The bench Rohinton Fali Nariman and Vineet Saran, JJ sought the Election Commission’s response within a week.

The contempt petition is filed by lawyer and BJP leader, Ashwini Upadhyay. Upadhyay, in his petition, claimed that the EC had allegedly failed to enforce the Court’s earlier order of September 25, 2018 that said that it is mandatory for candidates to publish in newspapers
about the pending criminal cases against them during their filing of nomination paper during the election.

Upadhyay, in his petition, claimed that the ECI had allegedly failed to ensure the disclosure of criminal antecedents and the Central government has not made a law to debar criminals from contesting the elections.

Seven phase elections in the country will begin on April 11 and conclude on May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.

(Source: ANI)


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Candidates with criminal antecedents| Parliament has exclusive jurisdiction to lay down disqualification for membership; Court cannot legislate: SC

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Supreme Court: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the bench of S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, JJ that it will hold by-elections on vacant assembly seats of Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi in Tamil Nadu within a reasonable time. The Court was hearing a plea filed by the DMK seeking a direction to the poll panel for holding the by-elections on these three vacant assembly seats.

The bench, while taking on record the submissions of the ECI’s counsel, disposed of the petition and observed that the court cannot determine the timing of elections and it was for the poll panel to decide.

The counsel appearing for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had earlier told the apex court that there are 21 vacant assembly seats in Tamil Nadu but the poll panel has notified by-polls for only 18 seats. He had said that by-polls on 18 vacant seats are scheduled to be held on April 18 along with the Lok Sabha polls in the state. It was argued that ECI should be asked to hold the by-elections on the remaining three assembly seats along with the general elections.

On March 15, the Court had asked the ECI to respond to the DMK’s plea seeking by-polls for Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi assembly constituencies. The poll panel had earlier told the court that the by-polls for three assembly seats were not announced as some election petitions were pending in the Madras High Court.

(Source: PTI)

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Supreme Court: The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the plea of 21 opposition leaders, led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, seeking that VVPAT slips of at least 50 per cent of voting machines in each assembly constituency be checked randomly in the Lok Sabha elections. The leaders from six national and 15 regional parties, claiming to represent 70-75 per cent of the population, have also sought the setting aside of the Election Commission of India (EC) guideline on random verification of one assembly seat.

The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Dupta and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ said that notice be issued to the EC, and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) should depute an officer to assist the court in the matter.

The parties include the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, CPI (Marxist), CPI, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Loktantrik Janata Dal and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The petition has sought quashing of the EC guideline which provides that random verification of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips shall be conducted in one polling stations in case of assembly election and in each assembly segment in case of Lok Sabha election. It also sought a further direction to the election commission for random verification of at least 50 per cent electronic voting machines (EVM) using the VVPAT per assembly segment/ assembly constituency.

The Court will next hear the matter on March 25, 2019.

(Source: PTI)

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The Election Commission of India has directed that all electors in all constituencies who have been issued Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) have to produce the Electors Photo Identity Card for their identification at the polling station before casting their votes. Those electors who are not able to produce the EPIC shall produce one of the following alternative photo identity documents for establishing their identity. The list of eleven documents is:

  1. Passport,
  2. Driving License,
  3. Service Identity Cards with photograph issued to employees by Central/State Govt./PSUs/Public Limited Companies,
  4. Passbooks with photograph issued by Bank/Post Office,
  5. PAN Card,
  6. Smart Card issued by RGI under NPR,
  7. MNREGA Job Card,
  8. Health Insurance Smart Card issued under the scheme of Ministry of Labour,
  9. Pension document with photograph,
  10. Official identity cards issued to MPs/MLAs/MLCs, and
  11. Aadhaar Card.

Overseas electors shall have to produce their original passport only for identification.

To assist the Voters, the Commission has further directed its officers that in the case of EPIC, minor discrepancies in the entries therein should be ignored provided the identity of the elector can be established by the EPIC. If an elector produces an EPIC which has been issued by the Electoral Registration Officer of another Assembly Constituency, such card shall also be accepted for identification, provided the name of that elector finds place in the electoral roll pertaining to the polling station where the elector has turned up for voting.  If it is not possible to establish the identity of the elector on account of mismatch of photograph, etc. the elector shall have to produce one of the above mentioned alternative photo documents.

On earlier occasions, the Commission had allowed Photo Voter Slip as a document for identification. However, there have been representations against its use as a stand-alone identification document on the grounds of misuse as these are printed after the finalisation of the roll and distributed just close to the poll through Booth Level Officers. The design of Photo Voter Slip does not incorporate any security feature. In fact, Photo Voter Slip was started as an alternative document as the coverage of EPIC was not complete in earlier years. Currently more than 99 per cent electors possess EPIC, and more than 99 per cent adults have been issued Aadhar Cards.

Taking all these facts in view, Commission has now decided that Photo Voter Slip shall henceforth not be accepted as a stand-alone identification document for voting.  However, Photo Voter Slip will continue to be prepared and issued to electors as part of the awareness building exercise.  In order to make it clear to the electors that Photo Voter Slips shall not be accepted as a stand-alone identification document for voting, the words `THIS SLIP WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF IDENTIFICATION IN POLLING STATION. YOU ARE REQUIRED TO CARRY EPIC OR ONE OF THE 11 ALTERNATIVE DOCUMENTS SPECIFIED BY THE COMMISSION FOR VOTING” shall be printed on the Photo Voter Slip in bold letters.

All Returning Officers and all Presiding Officers are being informed of these instructions. A copy of the instructions translated in the vernacular language will be supplied to each of the Presiding Officers. The Order shall be got published in the State, Gazette, immediately and publicised through print/electronic media for information of the general public and electors immediately and at very regular intervals till the date of polling.

[Source: PIB]

Election Commission

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Supreme Court: The bench of Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha, JJ asked the Central Government to constitute Special Courts to deal with cases involving MPs and MLAs and speedy disposal of these matters after the Election Commission of India recommended life ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases. The bench asked Centre to apprise it with the details of the criminal cases lodges against politicians from 2014 till date.

The Court asked Centre to place before it details regarding 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared by politicians at the time of filing their nominations during the 2014 general elections and that how many of these 1,581 cases have been disposed of within one year and how many have ended either in conviction or acquittal of the accused.

Centre told the bench that decriminalisation of politics has to be done and it was not averse to the setting up of special courts to deal with cases involving politicians and that the recommendations of the Election Commission of India and the Law Commission favouring life-time disqualification of politicians convicted in criminal cases was under the active consideration of the government.
The Court, hence, asked Centre to place before it the scheme for setting up of such special courts and also indicate the amount of funds that could be earmarked for the purpose. The matter has been listed on December 13, 2017 and Centre has to do the needful within 6 weeks.
Source: ET

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the controversy relating to right to the symbol allocated by the Election Commission of India to the AIADMK, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud, JJ asked the Election Commission of India to commence the hearing and dispose of the proceedings expeditiously, preferably by 10th November, 2017.

TTV Dinakaran, the petitioner, had claimed that he is authorised to have the symbol and the contesting respondents claim to the contrary. Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for the petitioner had argued that a number of affidavits have been filed by the respondents and therefore, time is required to advert to the same and further it is necessary to refute the same. On the contrary, Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the respondents had argued that the affidavits have been filed on the basis of the directions issued by the Election Commission of India.

Refusing to go into the veracity of the affidavits, thee Court said that the Election Commission has the authority under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 and Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 to decide who is entitled to retain the symbol in case of dispute. [TTV Dinakaran v. B. Ramkumar Adityan, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1199, order dated 06.10.2017]