23 March 2023 10:08 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court has directed the Election Commission of India to act swiftly and conclude the exercise of correcting the electoral rolls in Shivaji Nagar and Shanthi Nagar constituencies in Bengaluru, by identifying voters who have expired and those who have shifted to other areas, by March 26.Bharatiya Janata Party had approached the High court seeking consideration of...
The Karnataka High Court has directed the Election Commission of India to act swiftly and conclude the exercise of correcting the electoral rolls in Shivaji Nagar and Shanthi Nagar constituencies in Bengaluru, by identifying voters who have expired and those who have shifted to other areas, by March 26.
Bharatiya Janata Party had approached the High court seeking consideration of their representations submitted on 30-11-2022 and 23-01-2023 to the Commission for corrective measures to be taken in the electoral roll concerning Shivajinagar Assembly Constituency.
In furtherance of the conduct of pre-election procedure, the Commission started preparation of electoral roll and published a revised electoral roll. On 04-10-2022, periodical revision of the electoral roll was done and was updated.
Representations were submitted between 04-10-2022 and 09-11-2022 regarding certain discrepancies in the electoral roll. It is claimed that there were several complaints regarding the voter data submitted before the Commission. Owing to certain complaints even after publication of the integrated draft electoral roll, the Commission initiated certain proceedings on 25-11-2022 by directing the Karnataka government to collect the voter data.
On 15-01-2023, the final electoral roll was notified by the Commission for Shivajinagar Assembly Constituency. After the notification, the petitioner submitted another representation bringing out the very discrepancy.
Senior Advocate Vivek.S.Reddy contended that the Commission has not carried out any exercise in accordance with law, so as to identify the voters that are either dead, or have shifted and even duplication of voters.
“Duplication inter-constituency cannot be done at this stage, but intra constituency has to be done to identify duplication of votes. The Block Level Agents have identified 26000 names of voters, who are either dead or have shifted from the constituency and that list was submitted to the Commission who have not acted upon the said complaint,” Reddy said.
Advocate S R Dodwad appearing for the commission informed the court that after receipt of the objections, on publication of the draft list, on the basis of the list given by the Block Level Agents, the Booth Level Officer has conducted inspection, an enquiry and drawn up a list of 11000 such names in the electoral roll who are either dead or have shifted residence.
“Insofar as the shifting voters are concerned, notices have been issued to all of them and in cases where the voters have died, information is sought from the Registrar of Births and Deaths, in order to conclude the process prior to the notification of elections. Those 11000 names in the electoral rolls for the purpose of deletion would be taken to its logical end strictly in consonance with the Act, the Rules, the Circulars and the guidelines issued by the Commission from time to time concerning the issue,” Dodwad submitted.
On going through the record, Justice M. Nagaprasanna said the notices issued to 9195 voters have generated reply of 914 voters confirming that they are staying in the constituency and those 914 names are continued in the electoral roll.
"Therefore, what remains as an action to be taken is qua 8281 names in the electoral roll, as it is admitted that insofar as 8281 names of voters in the electoral roll are concerned, the Commission is yet to take it to its logical end,” the bench added.
Thus it observed, “Therefore, it would suffice, if a direction is issued to the Commission to begin to act swiftly; beginning today and undertake the exercise that they have undertaken to perform supra and take the issue to its logical conclusion, as according to the Commission, what remains is action to be taken qua 8281 voters who have been already identified by the BLO’s as shifted voters and 1847 voters who are dead, whose names find place in the final electoral roll.”
It directed: “The Commission is required to begin to act swiftly; beginning today and in view of the paucity of time and the impending urgency, the Commission shall conclude the aforesaid exercise on or before 26.03.2023, for which, the Commission is at liberty to regulate the procedure in compliance with the aforesaid direction.”
Similar order was passed in the petition filed by M G Pradeep, a booth level agent of the party, highlighting discrepancy in the Shanti Nagar Constituency.
“The Commission must bear in mind that these discrepancies are to be rectified for the conduct of elections, to be free and fair. Elections being free and fair, is the paramount essence of democracy, in fact, it is the life blood of a democracy,” said the court.
Case Title: Bharatiya Janata Party And Election Commission of India & Others
Case No: WRIT PETITION NO. 3592 OF 2023 C/W WRIT PETITION NO. 2632 OF 2023
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 118
Appearance: Senior Advocate Vivek Reddy for Advocate Satish Kumar H S for petitioners.
Advocate S R Dodwad for R1 TO R3.
Advocate V.G. Bhanuprakash FOR R4 & R5
Click Here To Read/Download Order