SC Asks ECI To Consider Introducing Requisite Flexibility In Eligibility Conditions For Registration As 'Defence Voters' [Read Order]

SC Asks ECI To Consider Introducing Requisite Flexibility In Eligibility Conditions For Registration As Defence Voters [Read Order]

The Supreme Court has observed that it will be open for the Election Commission to introduce requisite flexibility in the eligibility conditions prescribed for defence personnel seeking to be registered as defence voters in the stations (Peace Station) where they are posted.

The bench headed by CJI was disposing some writ petitions seeking directions to streamline the process and procedure of the casting of votes by the defence personnel in the General Elections held from time to time.

The main issue considered by the bench also comprising of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, was whether a reasonable option can be given to a defence personnel to register himself as a voter in the station where he is posted without requiring him to be registered in his native place (place of domicile). The other was about devising ways and means for ensuring timely dispatch and receipt of postal ballot papers, so as to enable counting of such votes in the process of declaration of result of the election. The bench observed that the notification dated 23.10.2016 takes care of issue regarding timely dispatch and receipt of postal ballot papers.

As per the prevailing norms, Service personnel serving in a peace station intends to register as a general voter, he can be registered as a general voter (as against a Service Voter) only if he is residing there with family for a sufficient span of time or provided he is on a tenure posting of 3 years or more in that peace station. The bench noted:

"The requirement of residence with family for a reasonable span of time or a tenure posting in a Peace Station for three years which has been sought to be imposed to enable a defence voter to exercise an option of being registered in the station where he has been posted, is an exception carved out by the Election Commission to enable eligible and willing defence voters to exercise the option of registration in a place where they are stationed provided the conditions stipulated are satisfied."

It was contended that a tenure posting is never made for three years and is usually for about two and half years. Taking note of this contention, the court asked the Election Commission to adapt to the situation by understanding the aforesaid two pre-conditions to be flexible and to be relaxed if the surrounding facts and circumstances including the duration of tenure posting. The bench closed the writ petition with this observation:

"It will be open for the Election Commission to introduce requisite flexibility in the eligibility conditions prescribed by the said communication dated 28.12.2008 to enable defence voters to be registered in the stations (Peace Station) where they are posted."

Read Order