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No SC direction to ECI on voter turnout data

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to pass any direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on a plea seeking the uploading of Form 17C data on the Commission’s website and publication of booth-wise voter turnout data. A bench of Justices Dipankar Dutta and Satish Chandra Sharma declined to grant any interim relief to […]

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to pass any direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on a plea seeking the uploading of Form 17C data on the Commission’s website and publication of booth-wise voter turnout data.

A bench of Justices Dipankar Dutta and Satish Chandra Sharma declined to grant any interim relief to petitioners and said it could not interrupt the polls.

The top court said that of the seven-phase elections, five phases are over and the sixth phase is scheduled for Saturday.

The “hands-off” approach is needed in the middle of the election process, observed the bench while adjourning the application. The court told the petitioner that the interim prayer raised in the present application was the same as of the petition pending before it since 2019.

The bench in its order stated that “Prima facie we are not inclined to grant any interim relief since prayer A of the 2019 petition is similar to prayer B of the 2024 application. List the interim plea after (summer) vacation.”

The bench clarified that it has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case apart from the prima facie view.

The top court was hearing an application filed by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking disclosure of final authenticated data of voter turnout in all polling stations including the number of votes polled in the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 within 48 hours of the polling.

During the hearing today, senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing the Election Commission of India (ECI), said that ADR’s application was based on “unfounded suspicions” and “false”.

Petitions like these are responsible for reducing the voter turnout because of the “continuous questioning of the process”, said Singh. He said such kind of attitude is causing damage to the public interest by always putting a question mark on the sanctity of the elections.

Earlier, the Election Commission had filed an affidavit before the top court and said that voter turnout data based on Form 17C (records of votes polled in each polling station) will cause confusion among voters as it will also include postal ballot counts.

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Election Commission of India (ECI)Supreme Court of IndiaTDGThe Daily Guardian