Source: 
The Statesman
https://www.thestatesman.com/india/sc-seeks-ecs-response-on-delay-in-releasing-data-on-voter-turnout-1503301345.html
Author: 
Parmod Kumar
Date: 
17.05.2024
City: 
New Delhi

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra gave a week’s time to the poll panel to file its reply and posted the matter for hearing on May 24, 2024.

The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Election Commission of India (ECI) on a plea by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking direction to immediately upload details of the votes polled, recorded at all the polling stations after the close of polling of each phase in the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections including figures released by the Returning Officer (RO) of each Lok Sabha constituency.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra gave a week’s time to the poll panel to file its reply and posted the matter for hearing on May 24, 2024.

As advocate Prashant Bhushan pointed to inordinate delay in the release the final voters turn out in each phase and a jump of nearly 6 per cent in the final percentage counts, advocate Amit Sharma appearing for the Election Commission, opposing the plea said, “It creates a huge impact on the new voters. Voting percentage will go down.”

Sharma said that the jump in the final tally of voter turnout was because of the postal and other ballots.

At this stage the CJI Chandrachud asked the EC lawyer why don’t you upload the vote count by the polling officer at a polling booth and the one by the Returning officer of a constituency.

The top court direction to the Election Commission came in the course of the hearing of an application by the NGO ADR pointing to a steep jump of 6 per cent votes between the figures of tentative votes release on the conclusion of polling in the first phase and the second phase and the final figures released by the Election Commission 11 days after the polling of the first phase and 4 days after the polling in the second phase.

The application, besides pointing to delay in the release of the voter-turnout details, said that there was a sharp spike in figures from the initial voter turnout percentages released by the Election Commission and the final court after 11 days and four days of first and the second phase.

The plea sought a direction to the Election Commission to provide tabulated polling station-wise data in absolute figures of the number of votes polled as recorded, in Form 17C Part- I, after each phase of polling in the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections and also a tabulation of constituency-wise figures of voter turnout in absolute numbers in the on-going 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

It further asked for uploading on the ECI website the scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part- II which contained the candidate-wise result of counting after the compilation of results of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The application said the voter turnout data for the first two phases of the Lok Sabha elections were published by the ECI on April 30, after 11 days of the first phase of polling held on April 19 and four days after the second phase of polling held on April 26.

It said that the data published by the ECI in its April 30 press release showed a sharp increase (by about 5-6 per cent) from the initial percentages announced by it on the polling day.

The NGO pointed out the data published in the press release by the ECI on April 30, 2024 (Phase I voter turnout- 66.14 per cent and Phase II voter turnout – 66.71 per cent) when compared with the initial data of April 19, 2024 and April 26, 2024 respectively showed an increase of nearly 6 per cent in the Phase I data and increase of approximately 5.75 per cent in the Phase II data.

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