The Central Information Commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Delhi to prepare a set of guidelines that must be followed before deleting names from the voters' list and inform the electors of the prosposed deletion giving opportunity to present their case.
The Commission directed the CEO to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 to a man whose name was deleted from the voters' list without him being informed even though he did not change his residential address. He could not vote in 2015 Assembly election in Delhi.
"The voter has a right to know, first that his name was deleted, then the reasons for the decision to delete his name from the voters' list.
"Such an arbitrary decision and denial of information even after deletion, followed by non-response to RTI request for that deletion would certainly amount to denial of very significant constitutional and statutory right to vote and right to information under the RTI Act," Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said.
Acharyulu also directed CEO to inform the appellant reasons for deleting his name from the voters' list and if any inquiry was conducted into the matter after issuing a show cause notice to the CPIO of the CEO's office asking why a penalty should not be imposed for failure to furnishtheinformation,.
He also directed the CEO office to carry out an inquiry into the matter (if no such inquiry took place) and to inform the appellant what action has been proposed to be taken against officer responsible for the deletion of the name.
"Not only the appellant, each voter whose valid voting right is violated by arbitrary decision of the officer without communicating reasons and giving an opportunity to represent why his name should be removed, is entitled to such compensation of Rs 10000 if he was not allowed to vote on that ground, and restoration of voting rights within reasonable time," he said.
The Commissioner in its order placed reliance on the ratio in landmark judgment of Justice L Narasimha Reddy of Andhra Pradesh High Court demand that a valid voter is expected to get adequate opportunity of being heard by the authority before deletion of name of voter. According to Article 325, “No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.” It is also to be noted that Article 326 guarantees the right to vote to every citizen above the age of 18.
Read the Judgment here.