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Supreme Court notice to EC on vote count procedure

Posted on May 12 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, May 12 : The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the Election Commission on a plea seeking direction for combined counting of votes from a constituency as a whole and not ward-wise.

Issuing the notice, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice N.V. Ramana said: "It may not be possible for us as it may require a change in software. We don't have the software."

The court has fixed May 21 as next date of hearing.

Appearing for the PIL petitioner, advocate Yogesh Gupta, lawyer Vaibhav Sehgal said: "The way ward-wise counting was being carried out (these days) revealed to the political parties the number of votes cast in their favour in each of the wards."

"The manner of declaration of result of every polling booth strikes at the root of secrecy attached to the voting," the petition said, adding that, as a consequence, "political parties are able to determine the (number of) votes cast in their favour in every ward".

The fact the political parties become aware of number of votes cast in their favour from every polling booth, "raises fear in the minds of the voters and acts as tool in the hands of the political parties to intimidate the voters", the PIL submitted.

To buttress his contention, Gupta, in his petition referred, to the video where Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar allegedly threatened the villagers of a village in Baramiti constituency that they would suffer in cut in water supply if they did not vote for his cousin and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule.

In his purported speech, Ajit Pawar said that he would know the way they have voted from the voting machine.

Pointing to the fallout of the present manner of declaration of results, he said Ajit Pawar's video shows that the remedy lies in the deceleration of the result of the constituency as a whole and not ward-wise.

The PIL said that declaration of result of the constituency as a whole would result in bringing balanced funding and growth of the constituency, thereby reducing the scope of political vendetta.

Gupta said that counting of votes in the constituency as a whole would restore the broad secrecy of the votes as political parties would not be able know the ward wise break up of votes polled in their favour which they are able to make out from the existing system.

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