Two NGOs seek probe into discrepancies in LS polls data

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court by two NGOs seeking an investigation into the alleged discrepancies between the voter turnout and the number of votes counted in 347 constituencies in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The plea filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause has sought a direction to the Election Commission (EC) to formulate a robust procedure to investigate discrepancies in the data in all future elections.

At the outset, the NGOs clarified that through the writ petition they are not challenging or questioning the result of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls or the election process in the country.

The petition has sought accurate reconciliation of data before the declaration of results for any election and a direction to the EC to bring into the public domain the information in statutory forms -- 17C, 20, 21C, 21D and 21E -- for this year's Lok Sabha polls and all future elections.

The petitioners have said in order to uphold and preserve the sanctity of elections, it is imperative that election results are accurate and the discrepancies in the parliamentary polls cannot be set aside without a satisfactory resolution.

The plea said the current statute allows for resolution of a dispute through an election petition but there is no provision available for resolution of doubts arising out of discrepancies in constituencies all over the country.

"Declaration of election results with alacrity should not be a priority at the altar of accuracy and integrity of elections. Several serious lapses can go unnoticed in the counting process in the rush to declare results and the winners," it said.

"Conduct of Parliamentary elections in our country is a gigantic exercise spread over two-three months. To be able to announce accurate results great deliberation is required, hence to expect and want the counting process to be over in just few hours is not desirable," it added.

The petition said the most significant function of elections is to establish legitimacy of elected officials before citizens.

"It is not only sufficient that election results are accurate; the public must also know that the results are accurate. The entire electoral process is damaged if elections are not credible even in the absence of a demonstrable scam," the plea said.

The petitioners said they have filed the petition to ensure that the democratic process is not subverted by any electoral irregularities and free and fair elections are held.

"The instant writ petition highlights dereliction of duty on part of the Election Commission of India in declaring election results (of the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies through Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs) based on accurate and indisputable data which is put in public domain," they said in the petition.

The plea said the EC has not laid down any prescribed system for "compiling, reconciliation and publishing of poll data and therefore, has been evading placing the methodology followed by it in public domain".

It claimed that the poll panel neither shared the quantum of discrepancies encountered in the entire election process nor the methodology adopted by it for resolution of the same.

Citing the data of a research conducted by a team of its experts, the ADR said there were serious discrepancies between the number of voters in different constituencies (i.e. the voter turnout data collated and provided by the EC) and the number of votes counted.

The ADR claimed that the findings of the research revealed several discrepancies, including those in the master summary of 542 constituencies. Discrepancies were found in 347 seats.

It said that the discrepancies range from 1 vote to 1,01,323 votes, which is equal to 10.49 per cent of the total votes.

The plea further said there are six seats where the discrepancy in votes is higher than the winning margin.

The ADR, however, said there is no particular co-relation with any party in respect of the discrepancies found in its research.

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