Ministers discuss SC order on defence personnel voting right
A group of senior Cabinet ministers met here on Wednesday to discuss a Supreme Court order allowing defence personnel in peace stations to get registered as voters in constituency of their posting.
New Delhi: A group of senior Cabinet ministers met here on Wednesday to discuss a Supreme Court order allowing defence personnel in peace stations to get registered as voters in constituency of their posting.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda met at Home Ministry to discuss the complex issue.
The meeting was held as there is a feeling within the government that allowing defence personnel to cast their votes at the constituency of their posting is not feasible because of strategic factors and other complexities.
"Allowing servicemen to cast their vote at the place of their current posting also involves the issue of security. If they exercise their voting right at the place of their posting, it could give out details of their deployment," a source said while explaining the hesitation.
He claimed that granting such a right could also mean that in a forward area where soldiers outnumber local residents, the armed forces would be the deciding factor over the locals in the victory of a candidate.
"As it is, their right to vote is protected. Defence personnel can take leave and cast their vote at the place where they are registered as voters. They can also use postal ballot. They are the only ones allowed 'proxy voting', by which they can authorise their next of kin to vote on their behalf for the candidate of their choice," said the source.
But the government agrees that there is need to streamline the system of postal ballots as servicemen have often complained that they fail to get the ballot on time, denying them the opportunity to exercise their right.
The apex court in its March 24 order had opened the doors for defence personnel in peace stations to get registered as voters in constituency of their posting and pulled up the Election Commission for its "rigid stand" which was coming in the way of "right to vote of service personnel".