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SC To Hear On Monday Challenge Against Election Commission's Decision Refusing To Prepone Voting Time During Ramzan [Read Petition]

Shayesta Nazir
10 May 2019 12:36 PM GMT
SC To Hear On Monday Challenge Against Election Commissions Decision Refusing To Prepone Voting Time During Ramzan [Read Petition]
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Supreme Court has agreed to hear the petition challenging Election Commission's order refusing to prepone the voting time during holy month of Ramzaan.

The vacation bench of the Supreme Court will hear the matter on Monday

With Election Commission of India rejecting the request for changing the poll timing to 5 AM instead of 7 AM, petitioners have moved apex court against the order asking for a direction to the Election Commission for extension in polling hours during 6th and 7th phases of ongoing general elections scheduled on May 12 and may 19 respectively. It seeks polling to commence at 5:30 AM or even 6:00 AM (instead of the notified time of 7:00 AM) on account of the unprecedented heat wave prevailing in several parts of the country and the onset of the holy month of Ramzaan.

Supreme Court had earlier asked the Election Commission of India to pass necessary orders respecting poll timing change while considering the petition with respect to same before it. On May 5, Poll body had rejected the request terming it "administratively not feasible" to alter the existing schedule.

On April 29th, petitioners had made a representation to ECI concerning same but ECI had not acknowledged their representation after which they had approached Supreme Court.

With Metrological Department warning severe heatwave conditions over the next days in large parts of India and temperatures soaring high and considering the fact that in this intense heat, it will be very difficult for the elderly and Muslim voters (during Ramzaan) to queue up at the polling booths during the day to exercise their franchise, a public interest litigation is before the Supreme Court asking for extension in polling hours during 6th and 7th phases of ongoing general elections.

Petition has been filed by Mohammad Nizamuddin Pasha through his counsel Fuzail Ayyub with the sole object of increasing voter participation in the electoral process and for the purposes of ensuring a convenient and fair opportunity to persons of all communities, particularly the Muslim community, to cast their vote and ensure their equal participation in the democratic process consistent with the principles of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The Petitioner prays for a direction to the Respondent-Election Commission of India to extend the polling hours during the 6th and 7th phases of the ongoing general elections 2019 on May 12, 2019 and May 19, 2019, respectively, so as to commence at 5:30 AM or even 6:00 AM (instead of the notified time of 7:00 AM) on account of the unprecedented heat wave prevailing in several parts of the country and the onset of the holy month of Ramzaan.

Ramzaan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, has commenced on May 7, 2019. During this month, a large percentage of the voting population, i.e. adult Muslims, both men and women, young and old alike will be fasting and will not be consuming food or water starting approximately 1.5 hour before dawn till dusk every day.

Over the last week, and more particularly on April 30, 2019 and more recently on May 5, 2019, the Indian Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India has issued a temperature warning indicating severe heatwave conditions over the next few days in large parts of India. Temperatures up to 3-6 degree Celsius above normal have been recorded in parts of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and higher than normal temperatures are being recorded and are expected in Madhya Pradesh, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, West Bangal and Haryana. Several constituencies in each of these States are going to polls in the 6th and 7th phases of the general elections 2019.

Petition says that in this intense heat, it will be very difficult for the elderly and for Muslim voters to queue up at the polling booths during the day in the intense heat to exercise their franchise.

It says further that during Ramzaan, most practicing Muslims wake up for an early morning meal called Sehri and sleep after the morning Fajr prayer. Thereafter, they avoid going out in the heat to the extent possible to avoid thirst, dehydration and the possibility of heatstroke. Therefore, in the present weather conditions, a lot of Muslim will be unable to go out to exercise their franchise once the day's heat commences.

Petition says that advancing the polling hours in the remaining two phases so as to commence at 5:30 AM or even 6:00 AM (instead of the notified time of 7:00 AM) will allow Muslim voters to cast their votes after the morning (Fajr) prayers and return home before the heat intensifies. 

Read the Petition Here


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