HYDERABAD: Making it clear that the High Court has got the power to extend the date of publication of final electoral rolls or grant stay of conduct of elections, a Supreme Court bench on Thursday suggested to the petitioners to approach the High Court on Friday for hearing their pleas regarding alleged large-scale discrepancies in the voters’ list and to allow enrolment of those who have completed 18 years of age by January 1, 2019, and seeking steps to conduct free and fair Assembly polls and so on.
The bench of justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan was dealing with petitions filed by Congress leader Marri Shashidhar Reddy, Shashank Reddy and others raising objections in respect of voters’ list and advancing of polls in Telangana.
The counsel for Shashidhar Reddy said there were discrepancies to the extent of about 70 lakh voters in the electoral rolls. The names of over 30 lakh voters were deleted on the pretext that they had left for AP after bifurcation. However, the same were not added in the voters’ list of AP, he said and urged the court to set aside the order of the chief electoral officer advancing the special summary revision of photo electoral rolls in Telangana vide notification dated Sept 8, 2018.
Further, he sought directions to the authorities for taking immediate steps to rectify the defects in the electoral rolls of both Telangana and AP states. The authorities had taken steps to publish final electoral rolls on October 8, he added.
While the counsel for Shashank Reddy said that the forthcoming elections in Telangana would not be held in a fair manner without rectification of discrepancies in the voters’ list, the decision of the Election Commission to have second special summary revision taking the qualifying date as January 1, 2018 rather than January 1, 2019 would result in loss of the voting right to about 20 lakh youths. Those who would be completing 18 years of age by January 1 next year could exercise their franchise if the election was held as per schedule in 2019. There was scope of ‘non-transparency’ if the polls were held now in a hurried manner, he argued.
Disputing with the objections raised by the petitioners’ counsels, the counsel for Election Commission of India told SC that the Hyderabad HC had recently dismissed similar petitions and still there were some cases pending on poll-related issues. There was, therefore, no need for the petitioners to approach the SC on the issue, he contended. The bench then suggested to the petitioners to approach the HC on Friday by filing their petitions for hearing.