Source: 
News9 Live
https://www.news9live.com/india/indiscriminate-disclosure-of-polling-station-wise-voter-turnout-data-will-cause-chaos-eci-tells-sc-2547106
Author: 
Nitish K Singh
Date: 
23.05.2024
City: 
New Delhi

The ECI response has come on an application filed by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in a pending plea seeking a direction to the poll body to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on the website of the ECI within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the Supreme Court that indiscriminate disclosure of polling station-wise voter turnout data and public posting of such data on its website will cause chaos in the election machinery which is already in motion for the ongoing General Elections to the Lok Sabha, 2024.

Apex Court on May 17 sought a response from ECI within a week on a plea by ADR

The ECI response has come on an application filed by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in a pending plea seeking a direction to the poll body to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on the website of the ECI within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The top court had on May 17 sought a response from the ECI within a week on the application of the NGO.

Public posting of Form 17C not provided in statutory framework: ECI

The ECI has said in its affidavit filed before the apex court that indiscriminate disclosure and public posting of polling station-wise voter turnout data on the website increases the possibility of the images being morphed and that public posting of Form 17C (number of votes polled in a polling station) is not provided in the statutory framework and the disclosure of Form 17C is amenable to mischief and vitiation of the entire electoral space.

“It is submitted that a wholesome disclosure of Form 17C is amenable to mischief and vitiation of 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 is submitted that indiscriminate disclosure, 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 processes,” ECI 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,” the ECI added.

ECI dismissed allegations of ADR about increase in voter turnout data as misleading, unsubstantiated

Petitioner NGO has raised concerns on delay in release of final voter turnout data by the poll panel after first, second phases of Lok Sabha polls and alleged that there was an increase of ~5-6% in the voter turnout data released by the ECI on the day of polling and in the subsequent press releases by the ECI for each of the two phases.

The ECI, however, dismissed the allegations by the petitioner as false and misleading and said that “the allegation is misleading and is unsubstantiated.”

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