Supreme Court Seeks Clarification from Election Commission on Identifying Duplicate Voter Entries

LI Network

Published on: February 6, 2024 at 10:15 IST

The Supreme Court has sought clarification from the Election Commission of India (ECI) on specific queries related to the removal of duplicate entries from electoral rolls.

The Chief Justice of India, leading the bench including Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra, directed Amit Sharma, the standing counsel for ECI, to respond to two key questions.

Firstly, the Court inquired about the ECI’s methodology in determining duplicated entries, and secondly, it sought information on how the ECI is informed about the death of a voter.

The Court’s attention was drawn to this matter during the hearing of a petition filed by Samvidhan Bachao Trust, an NGO, addressing concerns about duplicate voter entries. Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, representing the petitioners, emphasized that the Chief Electoral Officer, when issuing notices to district officers for the removal process, fails to address the issue of duplication.

The petitioners highlighted the absence of information on duplication in the return received after the removal process, as well as in the ECI’s counter-affidavit.

Responding to the Chief Justice’s inquiry, Amit Sharma informed the bench that the final electoral rolls would be published by February 8, 2024.

The Chief Justice requested information on the number of individuals identified as deceased or having shifted residences and subsequently removed due to duplication.

Meenakshi Arora explained the de-duplication process, emphasizing that computerization is used to identify duplicate entries in the electoral roll efficiently. However, she expressed concerns about the implementation of existing instructions on the ground and stressed the need for effective execution.

The Court noted the absence of a specific column for “multiple entries” or “duplicate entries” in the instructions given by the chief electoral officer in Uttar Pradesh. This raised concerns about potential misuse, as the absence of adequate data on duplication might lead to the casting of multiple votes by the same individuals.

In response to these concerns, the bench directed the ECI to provide a detailed response on the issue of non-mentioning of duplication in data collection by district officers.

The Court expressed its apprehension about the presence of voter names with duplications, deceased individuals, or practically identical entries exceeding the actual number of persons.

The case is titled Samvidhan Bachao Trust v Election Commission of India W.P.(C) No. 1228/2023 PIL-W.

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