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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: SC refuses to entertain plea against HC order on issuance of postal ballot to Chhattisgarh woman

The 78-year-old bedridden woman had initially filed a petition before the high court seeking a direction for the issuance of the postal ballot considering her age and ailments to cast her vote in the Bilaspur constituency that went to polls on May 7.
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 12:04 IST
Last Updated : 20 May 2024, 12:04 IST

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea challenging a Chhattisgarh High Court order that rejected an application of a 78-year-old bedridden woman, who had sought a direction for the issuance of a postal ballot to her to cast vote in the Lok Sabha polls.

The woman had initially filed a petition before the high court seeking a direction for the issuance of the postal ballot considering her age and ailments to cast her vote in the Bilaspur constituency that went to polls on May 7.

On April 29, the high court allowed her to make an application before the returning officer concerned and directed the authority to consider her claim strictly in accordance with the law.

The high court had said if it was found that she was entitled to cast her vote through a postal ballot, the same shall be issued in her favour according to the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 and the notifications issued in this regard from time to time by the Election Commission (EC).

On Monday, her counsel told a vacation bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal that according to the April 29 order of the high court, she had made an application before the returning officer for the issuance of postal ballot.

Senior advocate Gaurav Agrawal, appearing in the court for the woman, said the returning officer rejected her application on May 1.

"He said you are not having physical disability of more than 40 per cent and therefore, I will not permit you to cast vote (through a postal ballot). This is the sum and substance of the order," he said.

Agrawal said the woman again approached the high court, which dealt with her application seeking grant of interim relief on May 6.

On May 6, the high court rejected her application noting that the polling date was May 7 and the instructions issued by the EC with regard to the issuance of the postal ballot and its collection cannot be completed in 24 hours.

The woman had approached the apex court challenging the May 6 high court order.

"It has become infructuous," the top court observed, adding that the polling date was May 7.

Agrawal said according to Rule 27(I) of the Conduct of Election Rules, postal ballots can be received anytime before the date of counting of votes, which is scheduled for June 4.

"Even for postal ballots, some time is fixed. That procedure has to be followed if some time period is fixed for postal ballots," the bench observed.

Agrawal said the high court had passed an order in the petitioner's favour on April 29.

When he referred to the April 29 order, the bench said the high court had directed the authority to consider the petitioner's application.

"Now they have considered and they have found that you are not that physically disabled and therefore, they have rejected your application," the bench said, adding, "They have considered the medical certificate."

The top court observed that the petitioner had not even produced the benchmark disability certificate.

"Everybody would like to sit home and cast vote," the bench said, adding, "We are not entertaining this plea."

"First, you have to produce the benchmark disability certificate, then they will go to verify whether this certificate is correct or not," it said.

It also asked, "If you are below 80 years, then why should you be permitted?"

The bench said it was not inclined to interfere with the interim order passed by the high court.

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Published 20 May 2024, 12:04 IST

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