NEW DELHI: The Centre has opposed in the Supreme Court the use of totaliser machines for counting of votes of several polling booths together, saying that it does not serve any larger public interest.
The Ministry of Law and Justice has informed the apex court that it has taken a final view on the basis of the recommendation of a "team of ministers".
The team of ministers led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh recommended that the use of totaliser does "not serve" any larger public interest and there was "no justification" for its introduction at this juncture.
A totaliser is a device which allows votes cast in 14 polling booths to be counted together.
The ministry said the Centre had referred to the team of ministers the proposal of the Election Commission for using totaliser to examine the feasibility and usefulness of the process.
The Centre had referred the EC proposal to the team of ministers in another case pending in the apex court.
"The team of ministers has come to the conclusion that revelation of booth-wise votes polled by a candidate would perhaps be more beneficial and useful since it would facilitate candidates and parties to find out the areas where they have shown better result and they have not shown good results so as to work more for that area," an affidavit by the ministry said.
The team 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.
"It was observed that if any such incident takes place then the same would be highlighted in the media which would adversely affect the performance of parties and candidates in future elections.
" The Centre said it was conscious of the need for electoral reforms in the country but the process was "complex, continuous, long drawn and comprehensive".
It said it was taking all possible action in this direction.
The Centre 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 affidavit was filed in response to plea filed by Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking direction for common electoral rolls for Parliament, assembly and local body polls to save public money and manpower.
The Centre also sought dismissal of the 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 Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
The petition has also 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 petitioner 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.