Call for Efficient System of Voting Rights for Soldiers - The New Indian Express

Call for Efficient System of Voting Rights for Soldiers

Published: 20th December 2013 10:02 AM

Last Updated: 20th December 2013 10:02 AM

Every election, lakhs of armed forces personnel are being denied the right to vote merely because they are posted in far-flung areas of the nation.

Only a handful get the opportunity, and that too, if they are lucky. But now,the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission seeking to know why Army personnel andtheir families are being denied the right to exercise their franchise.

The notices were issued on a PIL filed by Neela Gokhale, the wife of an Army officer, who has sought an effectivemechanism whereby Army personnel and their families are able to vote.

If things go as she hopes, it should help 11.3 lakh Army personnel, which include a large number of Keralites,  and their families to participate in the important democratic exercise. The two systems of postal ballots and proxy voting are inherently flawed, Neela had said in her petition.

“Only a few service personnel are registered as voters and only a few are able to vote on timely receipt of the postal ballots. The proxy voting is a violation of the principle of secrecy as it makes the vote of a person transferable,” she noted.

In the case of personnel stationed in far and remote areas, the postal ballot process is cumbersome as the postal ballot never reaches the voter on time, according to the PIL.

“There are approximately 13.8 lakh personnel in the Army and 11 lakh in the Navy and the Air Force combined. Of this, Keralites should comprise approximately 11 per cent. They have been denied the rightto vote for decades,” said Major Mathew Oommen, vice-president of the NGO Justice for Jawan, which has been pushing for the cause. 

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