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Totaliser UPSC NOTE

 Why in news

  • The Janata Dal (United) candidate from Sitamarhi Lok Sabha seat, Devesh Chandra Thakur, was in the news for ‘breaching’ the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) no longer in force and rekindling interest in a dormant writ petition (W.P.). 

  • Mr. Thakur explicitly suggested that the Muslim and Yadav communities should not expect him to help in the redressal of their grievances as they had not supported him in the elections

  • The statement was against the constitutional spirit behind the relationship of the citizens and their elected representatives.

  • The Election Commission has repeatedly proposed the use of totaliser to avoid identification of areas according to voting behaviour. 

Totaliser

  • While counting, ballot papers of different ballot boxes were mixed to avoid group targeting of voters based on the voting trends in a particular area. 

  • However, with the introduction of EVMs, this ‘mixing’ cannot be done, which has led to demands of introducing a totaliser to avoid identification of areas according to their voting behaviour.

  • A totaliser is a mechanism which allows votes from 14 booths to be counted together so that voters are saved from pre-poll intimidation and post-poll harassment. 

  • Currently, the votes cast via EVMs are counted on individual booth basis.

Timeline

  • The totaliser as a technique to mask booth-level voting patterns was mooted in 2007

  • In March 2009, it was used on a trial basis in bye-elections to the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh

  • Thereafter, the issue has shuttled between the ECI, government, and the Courts, with the government pussyfooting the proposal till 2014 and then not favouring it altogether

  • In April 2014, W.P., Yogesh Gupta v. EC was filed before the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the EC “to declare the results of every Parliamentary Constituency as a whole and to not declare results of every voting machine separately, so as to preserve the right of privacy in voting”

  • In its counter-affidavit filed in June 2014, the EC reaffirmed its commitment to the totaliser whereupon the court sought to know why amendment to Rules was required and whether the EC could issue instructions for the use of totaliser under existing Rules.

  • Meanwhile, in its 255th Report, the Law Commission of India endorsed the EC’s proposal to introduce totaliser in counting of votes. 

  • However, in its affidavit in the Yogesh Gupta matter in February 2016, the government stated that the use of totaliser served no larger public interest

  • The EC expressed its “firm view” that using totalisers for counting of votes was “absolutely necessary” for protecting the interests of the voters. 

  • It held a meeting of recognised political parties for demonstration of totaliser in March 2016. 

  • The Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party supported the use of totaliser, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) advised a phased introduction, the CPI did not give a view, and the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed it. 

  • The EC conveyed the views of the parties to the government reaffirming its original proposal.

  •  In 2016, the government referred the matter to a group of ministers which concluded that revelation of booth-wise voting patterns would have a beneficial effect in increasing development activities.

  • In October 2017, another W.P (C) Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India was filed before the Supreme Court, seeking “appropriate steps to use totaliser” for counting of votes.

  • EC again submitted that the time was ripe for introducing totaliser. 

  • The government counsel raised the issue of the possible leakage of data from the EVM

  • The matter remains dormant since March 2018

  • It is worth debating if technology will help us rise above our prejudices or proclivities.


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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Totaliser UPSC NOTE
Totaliser UPSC NOTE
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