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Draft electoral rolls are given in PDF formats to prevent voters profiling: Election Commission to SC

The poll panel justified providing the draft electoral rolls in PDF format in Madhya Pradesh without any pictures of voters and said that it was done to prevent manipulation of the electors' data.

Published: 19th September 2018 03:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2018 03:00 AM   |  A+A-

EVM

Image for representational purpose. (File | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The draft electoral rolls are being provided in PDF formats in poll-bound states to protect the privacy of voters and their profiling, the Election Commission Tuesday told the Supreme Court.

The poll panel justified providing the draft electoral rolls in PDF format in Madhya Pradesh without any pictures of voters and said that it was done to prevent manipulation of the electors' data.

It sought dismissal of a petition filed by senior Congress leader Kamal Nath alleging duplication of names in the voters list as "not maintainable", "completely frivolous" and "an abuse of the process of court".

Kamal Nath has objected to ECI's move of not providing draft electoral roll in word format in Madhya Pradesh alleging that poll panel is giving it in the same editable format in Rajasthan.

Referring to the rule of Manual of Electoral Roll, the ECI in its reply on the petition said the draft roll is being put in public domain at the Chief Electoral Officer's website in PDF format and it contains only text and no photographs against the elector's detail.

"It is submitted that the clause clearly mentions that the draft electoral roll is required to be put up in public domain at Chief Electoral Officer's website in PDF format.

The second part of the clause, further, clearly envisages that the draft of the said electoral roll required to be put up in a text mode and no photographs would appear against the elector's details," the ECI said.

The poll panel in its reply filed through advocate Amit Sharma said that it does not, by any stretch of imagination or interpretation, mean or imply that the draft electoral roll has to be put up in the website in an editable or non-image PDF format.

"It is also apposite to note that the Election Commission of India has taken a conscious policy decision in issuing these guidelines in order to protect the privacy of the elector as well as to prohibit profiling of electors in view of certain complaints made before the Election Commission of India as well the global challenges to electoral integrity," the ECI said.

It said that the objective behind this guideline is to utilize the most advanced technological tools for dissemination of the electoral rolls in order to prevent manipulation of the electors data and even if it may not be achievable cent per cent, this guideline has been made with the hope that the use of most advanced technology will at least create the greatest hurdle in electors profiling.

It further said that so long as the ECI is providing the electoral rolls in accordance with the concerned rules, it is no one's legal right to demand the electoral roll in a particular format which is against a conscious policy decision taken by the ECI.

The poll panel termed providing of draft electoral rolls in word format in Rajasthan as an "inadvertent error" and in contravention of rules and for the same, necessary action has been initiated by the ECI and the CEO, Rajasthan has been replaced.

"if any inadvertent and bonafide mistake or error has occurred, that ipso facto does not give any right to the Petitioner (Kamal Nath) to raise such demands as the said inadvertent and bonafide mistake or error does not create any right de hors the Rules," it said.

With regard to the allegation of 60 lakh duplicate voters found in draft electoral rolls in Madhya Pradesh, the poll panel said that it has already been replied to the All India Congress Committee after the receipt of field verification report carried out by the CEO of MP.

"Insofar as the allegation of 60 lakhs duplicate, multiple entries are concerned, it is revealed on verification that the complaint is based on limited parameters of common name, relation and gender.

It is significant to mention that the other necessary parameters of age and photo have not been included by the complainant in reaching the said figure of 60 lakhs," it said.

The poll panel said that the use of limited parameters to reach a figure cannot be categorized as demographically similar entries and, therefore, the multiple, similar, duplicate entries as alleged by AICC is "extrapolated".

The apex court had on August 23, sought reply of the poll panel on the petitions filed by Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot.

Nath in his plea filed through advocate Varun Chopra had alleged that they were not provided draft voter list in word format by ECI like it is doing in Rajasthan and in a survey conducted by him in Madhya Pradesh, over 60 lakh fake voters have been found.

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