PIL seeks ban on announcing booth-wise poll results

PIL seeks ban on announcing booth-wise poll results

High Court of Karnataka. DH file photo

The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday issued notices to the Central Law Commission and State Election Commission, while hearing a petition challenging the release of booth-wise details of votes polled by each candidate.

A division bench comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Justice R Devdas was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Shivarama Gopalkrishna Goankar, an agriculturist who has moved the court on the grounds that such announcement by the Election Commission will lead to harassment and intimidation of the voters by the parties if they don’t vote in their favour.

The petitioner contended that with the announcement of booth-wise details of votes polled, the elected representatives will get a complete picture with regard to the exact number of votes polled in each booth limit or area. This may lead to under-development of areas where they have received less votes.

He contended that elections in India were held by a secret ballot, with paper ballots in 1951. In 1961, under Rule 59 A of the conduct of election rules, it was decided that paper ballots from various booths would be mixed in large drums at counting centres before counting began and thus it was impossible to know the exact number of votes polled to each candidate.

But with the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs), this kind of physical mixing is not possible and the booth-level data is available to the candidates. He further states that the secrecy of the ballot and privacy of the individual should not be compromised with. He states that this is possible if there is a ban on publishing booth-wise data of the total votes polled or with the use of a totaliser which mixes the total votes polled in each booth and announces the results.

The petitioner has sought for directions to chief electoral officer (Karnataka) to not announce the booth-wise list of votes polled to each candidate in Form 20 in Assembly, Parliamentary and other elections.