SC to hear NGO's plea for timely release of voter turnout data today

The NGO said that the plea was filed to ensure that the democratic process is not subverted by electoral irregularities.
Supreme Court of India.
Supreme Court of India.Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to grant an urgent hearing on a plea by an NGO seeking a direction to the Election Commission to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of conclusion of polling for each phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra asked the counsel appearing for the Election Commission (EC) to take instructions and said it will hear the matter at the end of the board.

The matter was mentioned by advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seeking urgent listing of the petition.

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Last week, the NGO filed an interim application in its 2019 PIL seeking directions to the poll panel that "scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded)" of all polling stations be uploaded immediately after the polls.

"Direct the Election Commission to provide tabulated polling station-wise data in absolute figures of the number of votes polled as recorded in Form 17C Part- I after each phase of polling in the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections and also a tabulation of constituency-wise figures of voter turnout in absolute numbers in the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections," the NGO said.

It said the plea was filed to ensure that the democratic process is not subverted by electoral irregularities.

"The voter turnout data for the first two phases of the ongoing 2024 Lok Sabha elections published by ECI on April 30 has been published after 11 days of the first phase of polling on April 19 and four days after second phase of polling on April 26."

"The data, as published by the ECI in its press release dated April 30, 2024 shows a sharp increase (by about 5-6 per cent) as compared to the initial percentages announced by ECI as of 7 pm on the day of polling," the plea said.

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The petition said the "inordinate" delay in the release of final voter turnout data, coupled with the unusually high revision of over 5 per cent in the poll panel's press note of April 30, 2024 has raised concerns and public suspicion regarding the correctness of the said data.

The non-release of the absolute number of votes polled coupled with the "unreasonable delay" in the release of votes polled data has led to apprehensions in the mind of the electorate about the sharp increase between initial data and data released on April 30, it said.

"These apprehensions must be addressed and put to rest.

That in order to uphold the voter's confidence it is necessary that the ECI be directed to disclose on its website scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part- I (Account of Votes Recorded) of all polling stations which contains the authenticated figures for votes polled, within 48 hours of the close of polling," it said.

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