"The PIL said the declaration of results of a constituency as a whole would result in bringing balanced funding and growth of the constituency, thereby reducing the scope of political vendetta."
New Delhi, May 21 - The Election Commission Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it was in favour of cluster counting of votes instead of the existing practice of ward-wise counting.

The Election Commission told the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice N.V. Ramana that it has written to the government to amend Rule 66 A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to provide for cluster counting of votes of 15 polling booths taken together as against ward-wise counting that exposes the voting pattern of a ward.

The court directed the listing of the matter for July 7 and asked the poll panel to file an affidavit stating its position.

The court also issued notice to the central government asking it to respond to the plea for junking ward-wise counting of votes. It gave the centre four weeks' time to file its response.

The Election Commission said this to the court during the hearing of a public interest litigation by Punjab-based advocate Yogesh Sehgal, seeking direction to the poll panel to do away with ward-wise counting of votes as it revealed to the political parties the number of votes cast in their favour in each of the wards.

The manner of declaration of results of every polling booth strikes at the root of secrecy attached to the voting, the petitioner said, adding that as a consequence political parties are able to determine the (number of) votes cast in their favour in every ward.

The fact that political parties become aware of the number of votes cast in their favour raises fear in the minds of the voters and acts as tool in the hands of the political parties to intimidate the voters, the PIL said.

The petitioner advocate in his petition referred to a video where Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar allegedly threatened villagers in Baramati constituency that they would suffer a cut in water supply if they did not vote for his cousin and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule.

In his purported speech, Ajit Pawar had allegedly said he would know from the voting machine the way people have voted.

Pointing to the fallouts of the present manner of declaration of results, the PIL said the Ajit Pawar video showed that the remedy lies in the declaration of results of the constituency as a whole and not ward-wise.

The PIL said the declaration of results of a constituency as a whole would result in bringing balanced funding and growth of the constituency, thereby reducing the scope of political vendetta.

The PIL petitioner said the counting of votes in the constituency as a whole would restore the broad secrecy of the votes, as political parties would not be able to know the ward-wise break up of votes polled in their favour, which they are able to make out from the existing ward-wise counting.


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