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|October 29, 1998||
EC asked to explain why I-cards are not being used
The Delhi high court has asked Chief Election Commissioner Manohar Singh Gill to explain why the decision to use photo-identity cards in elections has not been implemented.
The court also directed the Election Commission to furnish the electoral roll of an assembly constituency of Delhi, the election for which is due on November 25.
A division bench comprising Justice Anil Dev Singh and Justice Mukul Mudgal asked the commission's counsel, "Why was the rule [making the use of voter I-cards compulsory in elections] framed at all, if you can't implement it?"
The bench is hearing a public-interest petition filed by Harshanker Gupta, seeking direction to the commission to make the use of I-cards mandatory during the coming elections and revise the capital's voter lists as there are instances of duplication of names and bogus voters.
The court asked the commission to furnish by November 11 the electoral rolls of Timarpur assembly constituency where about 7,000 of the 100,000 voters registered are alleged to have been duplicated, raising the possibility of bogus voting.
Election Commission secretary K J Rao, in his reply to the court's direction, said a random spot verification of second electoral rolls of 7,000 people along with 109 pending cases of the first list of Timarpur had established that only 274 names were duplicated. They were later deleted.
But Rajiv Sharma, counsel for Gupta, submitted a list of 7,000 voters whose names he said appeared more than once even after the updated electoral roll was issued on January 1, 1998.
Agreeing with his contention, Justice Singh observed, "The duplicity of electoral rolls would not be a matter of surprise. During the past two elections, my name was missing from the voters' list." It was not included even after the commission was informed, he added.
When the Supreme Court order stating that all cases relating to voter I-cards pending in any court should be transferred to it was brought to the judges' attention, they asked the commission to place a copy of the order in the court by the next date of hearing.
The commission's counsel said the matter of use of photo I-cards is pending in the Supreme Court as some states have challenged the EC's direction for mandatory use of the cards in elections.
The direction was issued in 1994. But states like Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa filed petitions in their respective high courts against it, pleading lack of funds to prepare the I-cards.
Gupta, however, urged the court to direct the commission to ensure identification of voters through I-cards during the November assembly elections as 80 per cent of the electorate in the states going to the polls have the cards.
He further urged the court to constitute a separate identification mechanism for the remaining 20 per cent who do not have I-cards.
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