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Form 17C UPSC NOTE

 

  • The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a petition on May 24 filed by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

  • The petition requests that the Election Commission of India (ECI) be directed to upload polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

Discrepancies in Voter Turnout Data:

  • ADR has noted significant differences between initial turnout figures released by the ECI immediately after polling and the final voter percentages published later.

  • These discrepancies have raised questions from the Opposition and civil society regarding the authenticity of polling data and potential manipulation during the counting stage.

Legal Interventions:

  • On May 20, advocate Mehmood Pracha, who contested as an independent candidate in the Rampur Lok Sabha constituency, filed an intervention application. 

  • He claimed that the returning officer had not provided copies of the Form 17C record of votes as required by the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961.

Civil Society Concerns:

  • Civil society members have urged the ECI to disclose the authenticated record of voter turnout for every polling station as detailed in Part I of Form 17C on its website.

Role and Contents:

  • Under the 1961 Rules, the ECI maintains Forms 17A and 17C to record voter details and votes polled.

  • Form 17A records the details of each voter at the polling booth, while Form 17C is an account of all votes recorded.

Part I of Form 17C includes:

  • EVM identification numbers Total number of electors at the polling station Total number of voters as per the register (Form 17A) Number of voters who signed the register but did not vote Number of voters not allowed to vote Number of test votes and votes recorded per EVM Part II of Form 17C contains the results from the counting day.

Verification Process:

  • Candidates use the data in Form 17C to verify results on counting day by matching it with the EVM count.

  • Discrepancies can lead to election petitions in the High Court.

Delayed and Incomplete Data Release:

  • Unlike in the 2019 general election, the ECI did not release the absolute number of votes polled in any constituency.


Voting percentages were published after significant delays:

  • 11 days after the first phase of polling (April 19)

  • 4 days after the second phase (April 26)

Concerns Raised by Political Leaders:

  • Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge criticized the ECI for delays and incomplete voter turnout data, questioning the credibility of the Commission.

  • He highlighted unusually high increases in final voter turnout percentages compared to initial figures.

  • TMC leader Mahua Moitra also questioned the ECI's delay in publishing voter turnout data, citing her ability to compile constituency data within 24 hours.

ECI's Stance:

  • The ECI stated it has no legal obligation to publish the absolute number of votes polled online.

  • Copies of Form 17C are shared with polling agents immediately as a transparency measure.

  • The ECI accused Mr. Kharge of attempting to create confusion and impede free and fair polls.

Concerns About Confusion:

  • In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the ECI argued that publishing Form 17C data could cause confusion as it includes postal ballot counts.

  • The ECI suggested this could be misused to cast doubt on the electoral process.

Criticism of ADR's Motives:

  • The ECI claimed that ADR's petition is part of an agenda to perpetually create doubt about the electoral process.


ADR's Petition:

  • ADR seeks the Court's direction for the ECI to upload scanned copies of Part I of Form 17C within 48 hours of polling.

  • ADR also requests the publication of constituency and polling station-wise voter turnout figures in absolute numbers.

Supreme Court's Inquiry:

  • Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud questioned why the ECI does not upload voting records that are readily available after polling concludes.

Expert Opinions

  • Anjali Bharadwaj of Common Cause emphasized the need for the ECI to upload Form 17C to address transparency concerns.

  • Jagdeep S. Chokkar of ADR highlighted that smaller parties and independents cannot afford polling agents at all booths, making it difficult to obtain Form 17C data.

  • Congress MP Shakti Singh Gohil pointed out the impracticality for smaller parties to have polling agents in every booth, emphasizing the need for public access to Form 17C data.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Form 17C UPSC NOTE
Form 17C UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
https://www.learnerz.in/2024/05/form-17c-upsc-note.html
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