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Cluster Counting Of Votes: SC To Decide On Introduction Of ‘Totaliser’ On Feb 12 [Read Order]

The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar on Friday heard a string of writ petitions praying for the substitution of the prevailing system of ward-wise revelation of election results with a regime of cluster counting.

The counsels appearing on behalf of the petitioners submitted, “The method of ‘totaliser’ should be employed for counting the votes in Parliament, State Assembly and local bodies’ elections. It would inculcate a sense of security among the voters and would serve as a check against their victimisation if any of the other candidates comes to power. When the voting pattern at a particular polling booth is capable of being identified, it gives rise to local problems.”

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh conveyed the stance of the Centre of opposing the introduction of ‘totaliser’, submitting, “The issue regarding ‘totaliser’ has been discussed by a Group of Ministers on September 7, 2016. All national political leaders as well as the Election Commission of India (ECI) were consulted. The Union of India is not in favour of the introduction of ‘totaliser’”.

Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal stated that he has a different view on the issue. “Prior to the introduction of Rule 59A of the Conduct of Election Rules of 1961, the practice followed by the ECI for the counting of votes was of mixing of all ballot papers,” submitted the AG.

Favouring the introduction of ‘totaliser’ for the declaration of election results of the entire constituency as a whole, senior counsel Meenakshi Arora, appearing on behalf of the ECI, contended, “The system of ‘totaliser’ is suggested to safeguard the right to privacy of the electorate. By not exposing the voting pattern, in case the candidate a specific locality did not vote for comes to power, a backlash against the said locality would be prevented. This more so is of importance in smaller areas. The right to secrecy and privacy of the voter has been discussed by the Supreme Court even in the NOTA matter.”

Clarifying that only the issue pertaining to the introduction of ‘totaliser’ shall be dealt with, the bench listed the writ petitions for final disposal on February 12.

Read the Order Here

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