No party or person can give us directions on how to conduct polls: EC's firm reply on Congress plea

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress leaders claimed, there are about 60 lakh duplicate voters. 

No party or person can give us directions on how to conduct polls: EC's firm reply on Congress plea

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Tuesday hit out at the Congress over allegations about the presence of large-scale duplicate votes in electoral rolls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The poll body told the Supreme Court that no parry can direct the EC on how to conduct elections. 

"The ultimate decision-making authority rests with the Election Commission of India and it cannot be compelled to follow the directives of any particular party or person," EC told SC.

The EC termed the Congress allegations "misleading and misconceived" and asserted that it had always upheld the integrity and purity of the electoral process and was committed to holding "free and fair elections".

Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot had moved the SC alleging a large number of duplication of names in the voters list in the electoral rolls of the two states which will go to Assembly polls this year.

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress leaders claimed, there are about 60 lakh duplicate voters. Responding to the allegation, the EC said it had already replied to Congress's charges.  

"Insofar as the allegation of 60 lakhs duplicate, multiple entries are concerned, it is revealed on verification that the complaint is based on limited parameters of common name, relation and gender. It is significant to mention that the other necessary parameters of age and photo have not been included by the complainant in reaching the said figure of 60 lakhs," it said in court.

The poll panel said that the use of limited parameters to reach a figure cannot be categorized as demographically similar entries and, therefore, the multiple, similar, duplicate entries as alleged by AICC is "extrapolated".

The apex court had on August 23, sought reply of poll panel on the petitions filed by the Congress leaders in which they had alleged that they were not provided draft voter list in word format by ECI like it is doing in Rajasthan. Kamal Nath objected to ECI's move of not providing draft electoral roll in word format in Madhya Pradesh alleging that poll panel is giving it in the same editable format in Rajasthan. 

However, the EC said that draft electoral rolls are being provided in PDF formats in poll-bound states to protect the privacy of voters and their profiling. Justifying its decision to provide draft electoral rolls in PDF format in Madhya Pradesh without any pictures of voters, it said that it was done to prevent manipulation of the electors data.

"It is submitted that the clause clearly mentions that the draft electoral roll is required to be put up in public domain at Chief Electoral Officer's website in PDF format. The second part of the clause, further, clearly envisages that the draft of the said electoral roll required to be put up in a text mode and no photographs would appear against the elector's details," the ECI said.

The poll panel in its reply filed through advocate Amit Sharma said that it does not, by any stretch of imagination or interpretation, mean or imply that the draft electoral roll has to be put up in the website in an editable or non-image PDF format. 

The EC urged the SC that the petition filed by Kamal Nath alleging duplication of names in the voters list be dismissed as "not maintainable", "completely frivolous" and "an abuse of the process of court".

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