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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 21, May 25, 2024

Booth wise data on total number of votes polled not made public - Letter to Chief Justice of India | Lubna Sarwath

Saturday 25 May 2024, by Lubna Sarwath

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21 May 2024 Hyderabad

To
The Chief Justice of India
Supreme Court of India
New Delhi

To
The Chief Election Commissioner
The Election Commission of India
New Delhi

Dear Chief Justice of India, May Peace be upon you
Your Honour,

Sub: - Compliance of Supreme Court Order in WRIT PETITION (CIVIL No 990 of 2021)KISHAN CHAND JAIN VS UNION OF INDIA & ORS DT 19.08.2023- Suo Moto uploading of FORM 17C PART I ’ACCOUNT OF VOTES RECORDED’ in the website https://www.eci.gov.in/ - Consolidated tabulated data of booth-wise voters

Ref: General Elections 2024 to the House of People (Lok Sabha) held on 19/04/2024, 26/04/2024, 07/05/2024, 13/05/2024, 20/05/2024 in five phases so far

ISSUE:

This is to submit that General Elections 2024 to the House of People (Lok Sabha) has been held on 19/04/2024, 26/04/2024, 07/05/2024, 13/05/2024, 20/05/2024 in 5 phases so far.

However, till date no information pertaining to FORM 17C PART I ’ACCOUNT OF VOTES RECORDED’ of all the Polling Booths of 5 Phases of elections held in India has been uploaded on the website so far.

Further, consolidated tabulated booth-wise data of voters (male/female/others) as mandated in https://encore.eci.gov.in is not available for public consumption.

Additionally, critical information scrutinized by the Returning Officer after receiving booth-wise Form 17A and other documents, immediately next day of election day is not available in public domain:
’Annexure I Polling Station Data for Scrutiny Decision’
’Annexure II Recommendation of Retuning Officer for Re-poll after scrutiny of Form 17A and other documents’

All the above information should be available for public knowledge as per Apex Court Orders, and existing Acts & Rules.

RULE:

As per recent directions from the Apex Court in IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA WRIT PETITION (CIVILNo 990 of 2021)KISHAN CHAND JAIN VS UNION OF INDIA & ORS DT 19.08.2023 ’ ’Ensure Public Authorities Follow Mandate Of Section 4 RTI Act’: Supreme Court Directs Central/State Information Commissioners.’

’The Supreme Court directed the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions to ensure proper implementation of the mandate of Section 4 of the Right to Information Act."While declaring that all citizens shall have the ’right to information’ under Section 3 of the Act, the co-relative ’duty’ in the form of obligation of public authorities is recognized in Section 4 of the Act.’

’The Supreme Court has issued guidelines to Central and State Information Commissions for proper implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act requiring public authorities to make regular proactive disclosures of information through their websites and other means.

A bench comprising CJI D.Y.Chandrachud and Justices P.S.Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala directed the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions to continuously monitor the implementation of the mandate of Section 4 of the Act as required under guidelines issued from time to time by the Department of Personnel and Training.’

Further, it is to submit that as per the website https://www.eci.gov.in/voter-turnout the procedure for ROs to enter the data within hours is clearly laid down in public domain, which implies to understand that the data is concealed from public.

Screen shot below:

encore screenshot.png

Matter below:

’For the data entry of voter turnout we have different time slots i.e., 9 AM, 11AM, 1 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM and 7 PM. All these entries need to be filled without fail in a designated time slot by the Returning Officer /Assistant Returning Officers in the ENCORE Portal. The ROs/AROs enter the cumulative percentage of voter turnout for their respective assembly. After the end of the Poll, System allows entry of detailed turnout reports - Constituency wise and Polling Station wise, which include male, female, and third gender numbers against the total number of electors.

This mechanism simplifies the data entry of two-hourly voter turnout and helps in the timely dissemination of the information on a real-time basis. To ensure timely entries for each Constituency, at CEO level we have provided the facility to monitor and identify the assembly that has missed the data entry.

The features available in the voter turnout module are as follows:

Slot-wise percentage entry of turnout
Publish of turnout on the end of slot
Polling station-wise data entry for “End of Poll” percentage
Multi-level verification of final poll percentage
Link to access the portal:https://encore.eci.gov.in

Additionally, Returning Officer shall collect the information for each Polling Station in prescribed format (Annexure-I) at the time of receipt of polled EVMs & VVPAT’s and other documents after completion of polls.
’Annexure I Polling Station Data for Scrutiny Decision’
’Annexure II Recommendation of Retuning Officer for Re-poll after scrutiny of Form 17A and other documents’

APPLICATION:

Polling Booth wise data on total number of votes polled, duly cross verified with Machine data and Register of Voters Form 17A data.(item 1,2,6,7 extracted from Form 17C Part I appended below pertaining to critical data)

Total number of electors assigned to the Polling Station

Total number of voters as entered in the Register for Voters (Form 17A)

6. Total number of votes recorded as per voting machine..................................

7. Whether the total number of votes as shown against item 6 tallies with the total number of votes as shown against item 2 minus numbers of voters deciding not to record votes as against item 3 minus number of voters as against item 4(i.e. 2-3-4) or any discrepancy noticed....................................

As Part I of Form 17C contains empowering and confidence-boosting information and data for the voters of India its but natural that we expect compliance from Chief Election Commssioner , Election Commission of India and respective CEOs of all states of India.

Similarly, Scrutiny Annexure I and Annexure II submitted by the Returning Officer, on the very next day of election day, after examining the booth-wise information from Presiding Officers viz., Form 17A, Register of Voters, Marked Registers, Form 17C, etc. are critical authentic information that should be available in public domain, withholding of which is an affront and defeats the purpose of free and fair polling, not to mention the contempt of court and dereliction of duty by violating existing Acts and Rules as already stated.

CONCLUSION:

For the reasons stated above it is appealed that the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, call for :

a) compliance of its own orders cited above, (compliance of Sec 4 suo moto proactive display of information that belongs to the public and has emanated from the public,) that is Form 17C PartI of all polling booths , Assembly wise and Parliamentary Constituency wise be displayed promptly,

b) Consolidated tabulated data of all booths Ac wise and PC wise , gender wise be displayed promptly, as well as ,

c) post-RO scrutiny Annexure I and Annexure II of all booths be uploaded promptly on the election website

d) and, initiate steps for penalising of responsible officials as per due procedure for concealment of data from public in contempt of Apex Court Orders and against existing Acts and Rules dereliction of duty through concealing information in the largest exercise of franchise in the world as an affront to the poor and rich alike who trust in Indian democracy.

As such Chief Election Commissioner and State Electoral Officers are found responsible or failure or dereliction of their respective duties , both as contempt of the Apex court order as well as non-compliance of their own election commission rules as highlighted in screen shot from website above.

Hence this e-appeal from a contested candidate from 09-Hyderabad PC for suo moto disclosure of information for all PCs of India where elections held thus far in five phases across the country.

Below a testimony from former Union Secretary:

’Can the Election Commission of India (ECI) not embarrass themselves any further? I reiterate that Form 17C data of voters is entered boothwise in ECI’s ENCORE web based software’
"Data is available with them at the press of a button. How can they then say that they don’t have actual numbers of votes cast?" asks Sanjeev Gupta, ex- Secretary to Government of India in Home Ministry.
https://x.com/sanjg2k1/status/1791885297254543633

best

Dr Lubna Sarwath
Contested Candidate
09-Hyderabad PC (1944 polling booths) , General Elections 2024
Telangana
9963002403

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