There’s neither delay nor difference in voter turnout data, EC tells Supreme Court

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NEW DELHI: Lamenting that continuous attempts were being made to create doubts about the electoral process, the Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to dismiss an application filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) seeking voter turnout data under Form 17C as “such attempts demotivates voters”.

Responding to ADR’s plea seeking a direction to it to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of conclusion of polling for each phase of the Lok Sabha elections, the poll panel asserted, “There is neither delay nor difference in percentage of voter turnout data, more than what is inbuilt into the process, scale and magnitude in play.”

On May 10, ADR had filed an interim application in its 2019 PIL seeking directions to the poll panel that “scanned legible copies of Form 17C Part-I (Account of Votes Recorded)” of all polling stations be uploaded immediately after the polls.

However, in an affidavit filed in the top court, the EC said, “There is no legal mandate to provide Form-17 to any person other than the candidate or his agent. The petitioner is trying to create an entitlement when none exists in the law by way of filing an application in the middle of the election period.”

The poll panel said that voter turnout disclosures are made through statutory i.e. Form-17 furnished to candidates or his agents and non-statutory methods such as its voter turnout app, website and press releases which are continuously updated at an interval of two hours on polling day — the last being at 11.45 hours after waiting for the maximum number of parties to return.

It said, “Next day scrutiny of polling station level records is conducted before candidates. Voter turnout app continuously keeps reflecting data on live basis. On the other hand, Form 17-C is given to agents of candidates after the close of poll on polling day itself as per the statutory requirement and the information in Form 17-C gets set in stone.”

Petition was based on “baseless suspicion” and the petitioner had not approached the court with clean hands, it submitted.