Says no point in blaming EC for one’s own ignorance

Mumbai : While hearing a bunch of petitions in connection with deletion of names in Mumbai and Pune from the final voters’ list the Bombay High Court Tuesday raised its concern over interfering with the electoral process at present. It also questioned the practical feasibility of conducting the verification and polls of lakhs of such voters all over again.

“There was a remedy available to raise an objection. Let us assume there was a mistake, but the final voters’ list was published on January 31. There was a remedy available,” said a division bench of Justices A S Oka and M S Sonak. The court clarified that it was “dealing with the scope of interference in the electoral process”.

Asking the petitioners’ lawyer to ‘test his conduct’, the court questioned why it took them time to act after elections were held. “This is a matter of law. Can you find fault with the Election Commission (EC) when citizens do not even read the final voters’ list?” the court asked.

The court was told by the petitioners’ lawyers that over 2 lakh names both in Mumbai city and suburbs, and Pune were deleted. The lawyer, representing actor Amol Palekar and few others, urged the court to grant “appropriate reliefs” under the court’s jurisdiction.

On the other hand, the senior counsel A A Kumbhakoni representing two Mumbai-based NGOs — Action for Good Governance and Networking In India (AGNI) and Birthright — pressed for re-polls of those aggrieved and not declare the results.

Stating that there were cases during the last Lok Sabha elections where a candidate had lost by a margin of 2,000-3,000 votes, Kumbhakoni submitted, “If the margin of votes between the winner and the next best candidate is lesser than the number of deleted voters in a particular constituency, then such votes can be considered.”

In addition, the petitioners also brought the court’s attention the manner in which the election drive regarding the publication of voters’ list was conducted. The lawyers argued that the EC had not issued showcause notices to people before deleting their names.

The court, while noting down submissions of the lawyers for an interim relief, expressed that there will have to be detailed inquiry and each case will require introspection.

Meanwhile, the EC, on Tuesday filed an affidavit in the court saying that due process of law was followed while deleting the names of voters and they were notified about it.

Advocate General Darius Khambatta, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of court), said that EC will also submit the panchnamas showing that verification of voters was carried out.

The court continue hearing the matter on Wednesday and will likely pass order on interim reliefs sought by the petitioners.

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