Source: 
CNBCTV18
https://www.cnbctv18.com/india/politics/what-is-form-17c-the-clause-in-debate-over-disclosure-of-voter-turnout-data-19416635.htm
Author: 
Priyanka Rathi
Date: 
23.05.2024
City: 

The Form 17C records the votes polled in a polling station. According to the EC handbook, the Form 17C needs to be given only to the polling agent and not to any other entity.

The debate over disclosing voter turnout data has reached the Supreme Court. The Election Commission has informed the apex court that the "indiscriminate disclosure" of polling station-wise voter turnout data and its posting on the website could disrupt the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, which is already in motion.

The poll panel argues that publicly posting Form 17C, which details the number of votes polled in a polling station, is not mandated by the statutory framework and could lead to manipulation, potentially compromising the integrity of the electoral process.

"It is submitted that a wholesome disclosure of Form 17C is amenable to mischief and vitiation of the 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," the EC said in its 225-page affidavit.

What is Form 17C?

Form 17C records the votes polled in a polling station. According to the EC handbook, it is intended to be provided only to polling agents and not to any other entity.

The form includes the identification numbers of the EVMs, the total number of electors, voters at that booth, the number of voters who decided to not cast their votes after signing the register, the number of voters who were not allowed to vote; and a total number of votes recorded per EVM.

This form can be crucial in resolving legal disputes related to the poll result.

The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) has requested the court to direct the poll panel 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.

The ADR had filed an interim application in its 2019 PIL seeking directions to the poll panel for the immediate uploading of scanned, legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded) of all polling stations after the polls.

It argued that this step was necessary to safeguard the democratic process against electoral irregularities.

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