Supreme Court Asks Election Commission to Respond to Request About Voter Turnout Information

The Supreme Court has requested a response from the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding the disclosure of accurate voting percentages for the first two phases of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The court’s action came after a plea filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) highlighted discrepancies in the final voting figures compared to the tentative percentages released immediately after polling concluded. The ADR’s plea pointed out a notable increase of approximately 6% in the final voting statistics, prompting concerns about transparency and accuracy in reporting.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the ADR, argued that the ECI initially released tentative voter turnout data for the first two phases, only to revise the figures significantly later. While it’s common for voting percentages to rise gradually after provisional data is released, the extent of the delay and the magnitude of the revision raised questions about the accuracy and timeliness of the information provided by the ECI. Bhushan emphasized the importance of Form 17C, which contains the actual voting figures recorded by polling officers and is crucial for ensuring transparency in the electoral process.

The ECI, represented by counsel Amit Sharma, explained that collecting comprehensive data from all constituencies and addressing factors like repolling and geographical challenges can lead to delays in updating voting percentages. Senior advocate Maninder Singh, joining the hearing on behalf of the ECI, highlighted the Supreme Court’s previous pronouncements on electoral matters and emphasized the need to address the plea promptly. However, the bench, comprising justices DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra, expressed dissatisfaction with Singh’s remarks and reiterated its commitment to ensuring transparency and accountability in the electoral process.

In response to the ADR’s concerns, the Supreme Court granted the ECI a week to file a response and directed the matter to be heard on May 24. The court emphasized the importance of upholding voter confidence and directed the ECI to disclose authenticated voting data within 48 hours of polling closure to allay apprehensions and ensure transparency. The ADR’s plea, filed in a pending petition from 2019, underscores growing concerns about electoral transparency and the need for timely and accurate reporting of voting data.

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