Did not flout any norms: EC on sharing electoral data

Did not flout any norms: EC after getting accused of sharing electoral data with Delhi police

An activist on Monday accused the Election Commission (EC) of flouting the norms set by itself by allowing police to check photo electoral rolls of a parliamentary constituency of Delhi in order to match with the pictures of people involved in the communal clashes in the National Capital Territory last February.

The EC, however, dismissed the allegation, stating that it had not “deviated” from its December 2008 order, which laid down the guideline for sharing of electoral rolls and the database related to Electoral Photo Identity Cards with police or any other department of the state and the central governments.

The activist Saket Gokhale posted on Twitter a March 12, 2020 letter from the EC to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Delhi, stating that the “prevailing policy and practice” of the commission did not allow sharing of the electoral database of an entire district or an entire assembly constituency.

The letter was written in response to a query from the CEO, who had apparently sought instruction from the commission after the Delhi Police approached him seeking access to the electoral database of North East Delhi, East Delhi and Shahdara districts of the National Capital Territory so that the investigating cops could march the pictures of the rioters collected from the CCTV recordings and other videos.

The EC allowed the CEO to display the electoral roll along with the images of the electors in his office before the Delhi Police officers investigating the clashes.    

“Election Commission of India broke its own rules & (and) shared photos & (and) addresses of all residents of NE (North-East) Delhi with the police after the February 2020 pogrom,” tweeted Gokhale. “Entire voter lists with photos were handed over illegally to enable ‘identification’ of people.”

The EC, however, stated that the allegation was not based on facts. “It is hereby clarified in view of the anecdotal reports which are not based on empirical facts that the Commission has not in any way deviated from the original guidelines of 2008 and clarificatory orders of 2020 in any manner,” the poll-panel stated in a press release issued on Monday.

The 2008 guidelines stated that the electoral database along with photographs of electors could be shared with the government departments on special permissions from the EC case-by-case.