Defense personnel can now vote as general voters as a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph opened the doors for defense personnel in peace stations to get registered as voters in constituency of their posting and questioned the Election Commission for its strict stand which was acting as an obstacle for the right to vote of service personnel. Shifting from its stand, the Election Commission stated that those service personnel who have not made declaration till now to cast vote through postal ballot may register themselves as 'General Voters' in respect of constituencies where election process has not yet commenced.
In its interim order the apex court clarified that this (order) is subject to such service personnel being posted at peace station on January 1, 2014 and continued to be posted till date and further recorded and accepted the statement of the senior counsel (of EC) that in that situation the tenure posting of three years for such services personnel and their family shall not be insisted upon. The bench asked the Centre to provide within two days the data of such peace stations to the Election Commission and also take all required steps to make postal ballot effective.
It was also cleared by the apex court that the Election Commission was within its power to issue instruction/guidelines barring political parties from campaigning in peace stations. During the hearing, the bench asked the Commission to expedite the process to allow defense personnel to caste their votes in coming general elections and also questioned on its hesitancy for not allowing them to cast votes in the constituency of their posting by putting in condition of working there at least three years and living with family.
It further stated that the Election Commission should not take a difficult and technical stand so that the statutory right of citizens is taken away.