Source: 
India Today
https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/supreme-court-refuses-to-direct-election-commission-of-india-reveal-total-voter-turnout-each-booth-lok-sabha-elections-suspicion-2543234-2024-05-24
Author: 
Kanu Sarda
Date: 
24.05.2024
City: 
New Delhi

The Supreme Court refused to consider a plea to direct the Election Commission to publish final data on polling station-wise voter turnout amid the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

In Short

  • Supreme Court to hear plea to direct poll body to release voter turnout data after elections
  • It says hands-off approach should be exercised in the middle of poll process
  • Earlier, poll body got 1-week time to reply on plea against delay in voter turnout data

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to consider a plea to direct the Election Commission to publish final data on voter turnout in all polling stations on its website. The Supreme Court noted that the matter should be heard after the Lok Sabha elections.

A vacation bench of Justices Dipankar Datta and Satish Chandra Sharma said a hands-off approach was needed to be exercised in the middle of the election process.

"Tomorrow is the sixth phase of elections. We feel that this case should be heard after the elections," the bench said.

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea by an NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking a directive to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

During the hearing, the Election Commission told the bench that attempts were being made to create suspicion in the minds of voters.

"The petition is only founded on suspicion and apprehension. Conducting elections is a herculean task being performed should not let such vested interests interfere," the poll body said.

According to the plea, the voter turnout data for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha elections was published after 11 and 14 days of polling respectively.

This "inordinate" delay in the release of final voter turnout data, coupled with the unusually high revision of over five per cent, has raised concerns and public suspicion regarding the correctness of the said data, the plea added.

"In order to ensure easy accessibility of the data, a tabulation of the constituency and polling station wise figures of voter turnout in absolute numbers and in percentage must also be disclosed," it stated.

On May 17, the Supreme Court gave the Election Commission one week to file its response to a plea against the delay in releasing voter turnout data.

The ADR has filed an interim application in its 2019 Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the poll panel that "scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded)" of all polling stations be uploaded immediately after the polls.

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