The Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause have jointly moved the Supreme Court seeking investigation into the alleged discrepancies which took place in the 17th Lok Sabha election results.
The court has asked the registry to tag the petition with a similar plea filed by TMC MP Mahua Moitra, who had moved the court seeking publication of details of voter turnout and final vote counts in the said elections.
The Petitioners said that the plea was filed in order to ensure that democratic process is not subverted by electoral irregularities and to ensure free and fair elections and rule of law and for the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
They clarified that they had not challenging the 2019 election results but only wished that the Election Commission conducts actual and accurate reconciliation of data before the declaration of the final result of any election.
"…declaring results on unverified data without reconciliation of discrepancies is arbitrary, unjust, not transparent, illogical and unconstitutional. That the discrepancies are too large in numbers spread across the board that it merits a close scrutiny and system to monitor and resolve for future elections to inspire public confidence in the system," they submitted.
It was argued at the strength of a research, conducted by a team of experts with the petitioner organization, that there had been serious discrepancies between the number of voters in different constituencies (i.e. the voter turnout data collated and provided by the Election Commission) and the number of votes counted. They submitted:
"a) That the Master summary of 542 constituencies shows discrepancies in 347 seats. 195 seats are without discrepancies whatsoever. b) The discrepancies range from 1 vote (lowest) to 101323 votes @ 10.49% of the total votes (highest). c) There are 6 seats where the discrepancy in votes is higher than the winning margin. d) The total volume of discrepancies is in the nature of 739104 votes put together. e) There is no particular co-relation with any party in respect of discrepancy is observed in the Petitioner's analysis."
It was further pointed out that the Election Commission had itself admitted in its press note dated 01 June 2019, that "the final data on votes counted has been made available within a few days of declaration of results…" Thus it was clear that the declaration of results was not on the basis of authenticated and verified results but on provisional figures and without determination of exact Ballot count. Moreover, the Commission had till date not made the said data public.
"…in order to uphold and preserve the sanctity of elections, it is undeniably imperative that election results are accurate. It is not only sufficient that election results are accurate; the public must also know that the results are accurate. The entire electoral process is damaged if elections are not credible even in the absence of a demonstrable scam," the plea read.
It was stressed that the Commission has a statutory duty to collate and publish accurate data relating to the elections held by it. This data is captured in Form 17C [Rules 49S & 56 C(2)] (Account of Votes Recorded) at every polling Station and displayed in final result sheet in form 20 [Rule 56 (7)].
Thus it has been prayed that the Election Commission be directed to provide the following information in the public domain for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and for all future elections: statutory forms 17C, Form 20, Form 21C, Form 21D & Form 21 E.
The Petitioners also sought directions to the Election Commission for formulation of a robust procedure for all future elections for the investigation of discrepancies in election data, by creating a separate department/grievance cell for investigation of discrepancies in election data and for responding to the elector's queries on the same.
In this regard it was pointed out that the Election Commission had issued a Manual on Conduct of Elections with EVM-VVPAT along with a series of Circulars and Instructions. However, the said manual did not provide for a situation where there were discrepancies during the counting process.
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