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SC declines urgent hearing on PIL seeking use of totaliser for counting votes in polls

SC declines urgent hearing on PIL seeking use of totaliser for counting votes in polls

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday declined urgent hearing on a PIL seeking directions for common electoral rolls for Parliament, assembly and local body polls as also the use of 'totaliser' for counting of votes to save public money and manpower.

A totaliser is a device which allows votes cast in 14 polling booths to be counted together.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi refused to list the plea, filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, for urgent hearing.

"Nothing urgent about it," said the bench, also comprising Justices K M Joseph and Ajay Rastogi.

Besides seeking preparation of common electoral rolls for all elections, the PIL sought direction to the authorities to take steps to use 'totaliser' for counting of votes.

It had referred to the provisions of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, under which votes in the EVMs are to be counted polling station-wise, and said this led to situations where voting pattern in various localities or pockets become known to everyone.

The plea also said the electors of a particular area who did not vote for the winning candidate may be victimised by the lawmakers later after the polls and hence, the use of totaliser was needed for counting the votes.

The Centre had on March 11 filed its response on the petition opposing the use of totaliser machines for counting of votes of several polling booths together, and had said that it does not serve any larger public interest.

The Ministry of Law and Justice had informed the apex court that it had taken a final view on the basis of the recommendation of a "team of ministers".

The team led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had recommended that the use of totaliser does "not serve" any larger public interest and there was "no justification" for its introduction at this juncture.

It was of the view that the instance of intimidation or victimisation of voters as apprehended may not occur on a large scale in the era of media activism, the affidavit said.

The Centre had said the issue of totaliser was under consideration by the apex court in the case of Yogesh Gupta vs Election Commission of India and therefore this be deleted from the present petition as it would result in multiplicity of proceedings.

The Centre had also sought dismissal of Updhyay's plea saying that the issue of common electoral rolls, holding of election on Sundays, use of post offices as registration centres are the concerns of the Election Commission of India.

The apex court had on October 13 last year sought the response of the Centre and the Election Commission on the plea, filed by Upadhyay.

The PIL has also proposed that post offices be used as the nodal agency for voter registration and verification, saying it will not only help overcome the issue of duplication and confusion but also save huge public money and manpower.

The plea sought that elections be held on a Sunday, like in several other countries, to enable maximum voter turnout.

PTI

PTI

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