Stop booth-wise election results: PIL in Karnataka High Court

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ordered notices to the State Chief Electoral Officer and Law and Justice ministry secretary on a public interest petition seeking several directions to the Election Commission, including the one on not announcing booth-wise list of votes polled for each candidate in Assembly, Parliamentary and other elections in Karnataka.

The PIL, filed by Shivarama Gopalakrishna Goankar, a resident of Uttara Kannada, states, "After every election, the Election commission announces a booth-wise list of votes polled to each candidate and this will lead to harassment, intimidation and post-election victimisation. The elected representatives will get a complete picture as to the exact number of votes polled in each booths and they will neglect the booths or areas in which they have received less votes and thereby leading to underdevelopment. This will also affect the rights and liberties of citizens and against the principle of free and fair elections and secret ballot system."

It was submitted that elections are held by a secret ballot system which was introduced for the first time in 1951 along with paper ballots. In 1961, under Rule 59A of the conduct of election rules, it was decided that paper ballots from different booths would be mixed in large drums at counting centres before counting began. 

"It was impossible to ascertain the exact number of votes polled to each candidate. But with the introduction of EVM (Electronic Voting Machine) this kind of physical mixing is not possible and the booth level data will be available to the candidates," it adds.

The PIL states that booth wise list violates Article 14, 15 of the Constitution.

Further it states that the Law Commission recommended a system called as 'Totaliser' in which a machine mixes up votes from hundreds of EVMs across a constituency at the time of counting, making it impossible to trace the voting patterns of individual polling booths. 

The totaliser connects EVMs via their control units through a cable which enables the votes from multiple polling booths to be registered and counted together and replicates the mixing of the ballot papers. 

But the matter is under consideration with the government and the Election Commission.

The PIL seeks directions to amend the Rule 54(A)(11) and Rule 56(A) (7)(b) of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961 to prevent the publication of the booth-wise results, and to introduce the system of Totaliser while counting the votes and announcing the results for Assembly, Parliamentary and other elections in Karnataka. 

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