SC notice to EC, Centre on LS poll data mismatch plea

Last Updated 13 December 2019, 07:17 IST

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre and the Election Commission of India (EC) on a plea seeking probe into alleged serious discrepancies in voter turnout and votes counted in the 17th Lok Sabha polls.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant admitted a PIL filed jointly by NGOs, Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause. The court said a similar plea has already been admitted for consideration.

The petitioners were represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan.

In the plea, the NGOs alleged differences were recorded in voter turnout and votes counted in as many as in 347 parliamentary seats.

The PIL sought to highlight "dereliction of statutory duty" by the EC in declaring election results of the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies through electronic voting machine (EVMs) based on accurate and indisputable data, put in the public domain.

The petition filed by advocate Bhushan contended that the lack of reasoned explanation by the EC on a mismatch and the cleanup of certain data from its website has caused "serious doubts in the mind of citizens about the entire process of counting and result declaration."

It sought a direction to the EC to conduct actual and accurate reconciliation of data before the declaration of the final result of any election and formulate a robust procedure for the investigation of all discrepancies in election data in the future.

The petitioners claimed the EC introduced for the first time in the Lok Sabha General Elections 2019 a real-time reporting of the turnout by a mobile app called the My Voter turnout App for every single constituency. The data was published for the first six phases of the election in actual numbers of votes polled at every booth in any constituency. However, in the last phase, the 7th phase, only percentage figures were given and previous data was removed.

"The discontinuation of publication of actual numbers and replacing it with a percentage figure abruptly in the seventh phase was seemingly done, to cover up a large number of unexplained discrepancies being recorded in a majority of the constituencies," their plea contended.

Though the petitioners maintained they were not questioning the final result of the 2019 General Elections or the election process, they sought intervention from the court for "effectuating free and fair elections, the survival of democracy and for the enforcement of fundamental rights."

Petitioners' claims:

* Of 542 constituencies, discrepancies shown in 347 seats.
* 195 seats are without discrepancies.
* Discrepancies range from one vote (lowest) to 1m01,323 votes at 10.49% of the total votes (highest).
* Six parliamentary seats -- Guntur, Vishakhapatnam, Anantnag, Khunti, Koraput and Machhlishahr -- recorded higher discrepancy in votes than the winning margin.
* Total volume of discrepancies is of 7,39,104 votes.
* No particular co-relation with any party in respect of discrepancy.

"Declaration of election results with alacrity should not be a priority at the altar of accuracy and integrity of elections. Elections are all about trust. If the citizens do not trust the election results and there is no basis to show that their fears are unfounded, the legitimacy of election results would remain perpetually under a cloud," the plea further noted.

(Published 13 December 2019, 02:55 IST)

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