SC dis­misses Cong plea on MP, Raj poll rolls

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - DNA Correspondent correspondent@dnain­dia.net

New Delhi: Ahead of the Assem­bly elec­tions in Mad­hya Pradesh and Ra­jasthan begin­ning Novem­ber 28, the Congress suf­fered a de­feat in the Supreme Court as its plea ques­tion­ing the cred­i­bil­ity of the vot­ers list pre­pared by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion was re­pelled by the apex court on Fri­day.

Top Congress lead­ers — Ka­mal Nath and Sachin Pi­lot — had ap­proached the Supreme Court de­mand­ing draft elec­toral rolls in text for­mat that could be ver­i­fi­able on ground by the party. In ad­di­tion, the two lead­ers even de­manded that the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion con­duct ran­dom checks at 10 per cent Voter Ver­i­fi­able Pa­per Au­dit Trail (VVPAT) slips at ran­domly se­lected polling booths.

Dis­miss­ing the twin de­mands, the bench of Jus­tices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan agreed with the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion that the task of de-du­pli­ca­tion and re­moval of fake en­tries in the elec­toral roll was com­pleted by May 2018 that led to dele­tion of 24 lakh en­tries. Fol­low­ing this, a draft elec­toral roll was pre­pared and the fi­nal Elec­toral Roll for the poll-bound states was pub­lished on Septem­ber 27. A copy of it was sup­plied to the Congress Party as well in which the de­fects as pointed out by the pe­ti­tion­ers got rec­ti­fied, the bench noted.

About hand­ing over the rolls in text for­mat to the party, the poll panel in­formed the court that such a step could jeop­ar­dise the pri­vacy of cit­i­zens as this is ready data that can be com­mer­cially ex­ploited or mined.

The bench said, “The EC has taken a con­scious de­ci­sion not to give copies of these voter list to po­lit­i­cal par­ties in scannable text mode keep­ing in view the is­sue of pri­vacy of vot­ers .... the pe­ti­tioner can­not claim, as a right, that the draft elec­toral roll should be placed on the web­site in a ‘search­able mode’.”

Congress leader Ka­mal Nath (2R) is one of the pe­ti­tion­ers

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