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No legal mandate to make booth wise votes polled public; will confuse voters: ECI to Supreme Court

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the poll body stated that disclosure of voter turnout data based on Form 17C (votes polled in each polling station) will cause confusion among voters as it will also include postal ballot counts.

“In any electoral contest, the margin of victory may be very close. In such cases, disclosure of Form 17C in public domain may cause confusion in the minds of the voters with regard to the total votes polled as the latter figure would include the number of votes polled as per Form 17C as well as the votes received through postal ballots. However, such difference may not be easily understood by the voters and may be used by persons with motivated interests to cast aspersion on the whole electoral process … cause chaos in the election machinery which is already in motion,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit was filed opposing an application by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking disclosure of final authenticated data of voter turnout in all polling stations including the number of votes polled in the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 within 48 hours of the polling.

The ECI in its affidavit also attacked ADR and contended that certain “vested interests” keep on throwing false allegations at it to discredit its working.

“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 design and pattern in play is to spread doubts and damage is done by the time the truth … comes out,” it was submitted.

The poll body stated that ADR has been claiming a legal entitlement where none exists, that too amidst the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The ECI relied on the strictures passed against ADR in the recent EVM judgment of the apex court, and stated that the ‘tenor, language, design of the public messaging including tweets and social media posts made by the petitioner during many stages of hearing of the cases before the Supreme Court should be taken note of.

“The petitioners are not approaching the Hon’ble courts with clean hands and to misuse the forum of the Court with an agenda to perpetually keep creating doubt in the mind of voters based on conspiracy theory. It is also pertinent to state that the petitioners have not been able to prove the assertions in none of the cases, either on purity of electoral roll or EVMs.”

Source: Barandbench

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