Source: 
The Economic Times
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/elections/lok-sabha/india/no-booth-wise-turnout-data-mid-polls-says-supreme-court/articleshow/110406490.cms?from=mdr
Author: 
Raghav Ohri
Date: 
24.05.2024
City: 
New Delhi

Supreme Court, led by Justice Dipankar Datta, denied interim relief on disclosing votes in ongoing elections. Maninder Singh opposed ADR's plea, highlighting its potential impact on voter turnout. The decision aimed to maintain faith in the poll panel.

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to pass any interim order directing the Election Commission of India (ECI) to disclose the number of votes polled in each polling station of the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections within 48 hours of polling and favoured a "hands-off approach" in the middle of electoral process.

A vacation bench headed by Justice Dipankar Datta said it was "not inclined" to grant any interim relief since the interim relief sought in the instant plea was the same as the final relief sought in the main petition pending before the court since 2019.

Posting the matter for resumed hearing post elections, the bench clarified that it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the plea filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking directions to the ECI to disclose 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 polling.

During the hearing, senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the Election Commission, argued that ADR's plea is based entirely on "assumptions and apprehensions" and seeks to "puncture and erode the faith" of people in the poll panel and its functioning.

Singh even said such pleas could be the reason for the low voter turnout in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Datta asked the petitioner to explain as to why it did not approach the court seeking an interim relief before the commencement of Lok Sabha elections.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, senior advocate Dushyant Dave argued that the plea is "not an adversarial litigation".

It might be mentioned here that in its reply filed earlier this week, the ECI had attacked ADR and alleged that certain "vested interests" keep on throwing false allegations at the poll panel to discredit its working.

"There is a consistent mala-fide campaign/design/effort 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 ECI," it had said.

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

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