The New Indian Express
Suchitra Kalyan Mohanty

The Association for Democratic Reforms had sought a direction by the SC to the Commission to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website...

Two days before the hearing in the case, the Election Commission of India (ECI) informed the Supreme Court on Wednesday that uploading Form 17C (record of votes polled) on its website could lead to mischief.

The ECI expressed concerns about the possibility of images being morphed, which could create "widespread discomfort and mistrust".

The apex court's three-judge Bench, led by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, is scheduled to hear the case on May 24, Friday.

The EC filed this affidavit on Wednesday after complying with the apex court's order on May 17 asking it to file a reply on the issue on the plea filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The ECI submitted to the apex court that a wholesome disclosure of Form 17C is amenable to mischief and vitiation of the entire electoral space.

"At the moment, the original Form 17C is only available in the Strong Room and a copy only with the polling agents whose signature it bears. Therefore, there is a one-to-one relationship between each Form 17C and its possessor," the ECI told the top court.

The ECI further submitted in its affidavit that indiscriminate disclosure and public posting on the website increases the possibility of the images being morphed, including the counting results which then can create widespread public discomfort and mistrust in the entire electoral process.

The Supreme Court on Friday had sought a detailed response from the ECI after hearing ADR's plea, seeking a direction to the Commission to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of polling for each phase of ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

The apex court is likely to deliberate upon the ECI's affidavit on Friday, as it wanted to know as to what were the difficulties in putting up the voter turnout details on its website.

It is expected that the top court might pass an order in this regard keeping in view the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The main plea was rejected by the top court on April 26.

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