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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Courtroom on Monday sought responses from the Election Fee and the Union authorities on a PIL searching for to decriminalise the supply in Conduct of Election Guidelines, 1961, that makes an individual chargeable for jail time period if her criticism about discrepancy in a EVM/VVPAT seems to be false.
The PIL by Sunil Ahya got here up for listening to earlier than a bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna days after a former police officer mentioned he shied away from complaining about discrepancy within the EVM/VVPAT, which he observed whereas voting, fearing the stringent penal provision if his criticism was discovered to be false.
The CJI-led bench sought response from the EC and the Centre as Ahya argued that an modification carried out in 2013 to Conduct of Election Guidelines launched Rule 49MA which, when learn with Part 177 of IPC, made it a legal offence if a criticism in opposition to voting machine malfunctioning turned out to be false.
“It is probably not honest and simply to cost an elector for reporting deviant behaviour of EVMs or VVPATs. It is usually flawed to place the onus on the voter, at the price of making him face legal fees, to show his declare even when the reporting of deviant behaviour by the machines was truthful and trustworthy,” he mentioned.
Ahya mentioned this could deter a voter from making any criticism about voting machines and impede the method of fixed improve of techniques to make voting free, honest and clear and likewise violate the voters’ proper to free and honest speech.
In keeping with Rule 49MA, if a voter complains about malfunctioning or deviant behaviour of VVPAT by stating that his vote for one candidate was registered within the title of one other, the presiding officer of the polling sales space would receive a written declaration from the complainant after warning him concerning the penalties of constructing a false declaration.
After the voter offers the declaration, he could be permitted to solid a take a look at vote in the identical voting machine within the presence of the candidates or their polling brokers and scrutinise the paper slip generated by the VVPAT. “If the allegation is discovered true, the presiding officer shall report the details instantly to the returning officer, cease additional recording of votes in that voting machine and act as per route of the RO,” Rule 49MA says.
If the allegations are discovered to be false and the paper slip generated by the take a look at vote exhibits the right selection, then the complainant would discover herself chargeable for punishment. Ahya advised sure strategies to keep up transparency in voting by means of EVM/VVPAT with out subjecting the voter to penal provisions below Rule 49MA and Part 177 of IPC.


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