The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of eight persons alleged of rioting and causing injuries with firearms outside a polling station in what is now Jharkhand ahead of the 1989 Lok Sabha elections.
The division bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah observed that “The essence of the electoral system should be to ensure freedom of voters to exercise their free choice. Therefore, any attempt at booth capturing, or bogus voting should be dealt with iron hands because it ultimately affects the rule of law and democracy.”
All these eight accused were found guilty of beating a Bharatiya Janata Party worker when he denied giving away voter slips to them.
The eight accused namely, Lakshman Singh, Shiv Kumar Singh, Upendra Singh, Vijay Singh, Sanjay Prasad Singh, Rajmani Singh, Ayodhya Prasad Singh, and Ramadhar Singh approached the Supreme Court challenging an order passed by the Jharkhand high court on October 31, 2018, which quashed there appeal against their conviction.
The Apex Court cited the 2013 judgment in the People’s Union of Civil Liberties case which held that the freedom of vote is a part and parcel of freedom of speech and expression which is a fundamental right, hence, an essential way of strengthening democracy in a country is by ensuring secrecy of casting votes.
Earlier in July 1999, they were also held guilty of rioting and voluntarily causing hurt by a trial Court.