The Supreme Court today (Friday, October 12) dismissed two separate petitions of senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot seeking directions to the Election Commission to provide the draft voters’ list in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in text format.
Madhya Pradesh goes to polls on November 28 and Rajasthan on December 7.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had reserved its verdict on October 8 on the plea of leaders alleging duplication of voters in the list and sought a proper redressal of grievances to ensure free and fair elections.
The plea filed by Nath said directions should be issued to publish the voters’ lists in a “text format as per rules”, instead of the PDF format, and expeditious decisions taken on all complaints before their final publication.
In their petition, the Congress leaders alleged there were a large number of duplicate names appearing on the voters’ list and sought the rectification of the error to ensure “free and fair elections.”
Kamal Nath, in his plea, said that the court should direct the Election Commission to publish the voters’ lists in a “text format as per rules,” instead of the PDF format, and redress all complaints related to electoral rolls before their final publication.
The leaders alleged that according to a survey, there were over 60 lakh fake voters in Madhya Pradesh and similarly, in Rajasthan, there were over 41 lakh duplicate voters.
In Rajasthan, the poll panel had added 71 lakh new voters, the plea said, demanding that directions be given to remove inconsistencies and conduct free and fair elections.
The senior Congress leader has also said a direction should be issued to the poll panel to randomly verify the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with votes cast on electronic voting machines (EVMs) at 10 per cent randomly-selected polling stations in every constituency.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, representing the Election Commission, argued that a large number of duplicate entries from the voters’ list were already weeded out even before the issue was taken up by the Congress.
On September 18, the poll panel had, in its affidavit, justified providing the draft electoral roll in PDF format in Madhya Pradesh without the pictures of the voters and said it was done to prevent manipulation of electors’ data.
The Supreme Court said about Congress leaders’ plea: “we have dismissed these petitions.”