Gujarat HC scraps plea seeking one date for counting of ballots

The Gujarat Excessive Court docket Friday rejected a plea moved by Anand district panchayat members affiliated to Congress, seeking a uniform date for declaration of outcomes for the elections to municipal companies, taluka panchayats and municipalities. The court docket noticed it was not attainable for the State Election Fee (SEC) to regulate the minds of voters from being influenced by a number of elements and that the SEC ought to keep away from taking a certificates from any court docket that ‘Rome burned whereas Nero fiddled’.

“‘Free’ and ‘honest’ are two small and easy phrases of the English language however the two phrases are so highly effective that the complete democracy of this nation relies on the identical. Subsequently, all of the actions of the Election Fee should be of such a nature that they need to instill confidence within the thoughts of the folks together with the poorest of the voters hailing from essentially the most underprivileged and decrease strata of society. The State Election Fee, so far as attainable, ought to keep away from taking a certificates from any court docket that ‘Rome burned whereas Nero fiddled’,” the court docket noticed.

The petitioners had challenged the two-phase counting of votes with outcomes of elections to municipal companies being Gujarat HC declared on February 23, earlier than the municipalities, district and gram panchayats go to polls on February 28, totally on the bottom that it could lead to influencing the “coronary heart and thoughts” of rural voters.

The division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Ilesh Vora whereas rejecting the plea opined that the “residents shouldn’t be thought of so weak in his thought course of that his thoughts would get influenced indirectly or the opposite with the declaration of the outcome of one half of the election first in level of time.”

The court docket additionally concluded that the SEC is a “constitutional functionary and as an unbiased physique,” there was nothing on report to point that the declared election programme “is tainted with malafide or the identical has been fastened on the occasion of the ruling occasion in energy.”

“If there would have been any credible materials on report to point that the State Election Fee has not acted independently … we might have positively interfered unhesitatingly,” the judgment famous.

The court docket noticed that it isn’t attainable for the State Election Fee (SEC) to regulate the minds of voters from being influenced by a number of elements of bias comparable to charisma, caste, faith, and many others. as “many ambiguities” influences a voter’s voting behaviour, “though no theoretical supposition can sufficiently account for the ultimate selection of all voters within the election course of.”

“There are such a lot of elements which can affect the thoughts of the voter. All of it is determined by the strata of the society the voter hails. A poor voter could get influenced by any corrupt observe like cash or a pair of new garments, and many others.… From the tenor of the arguments we might make it out that what’s hinted by the writ-applicants is that the 2 totally different dates of counting is nothing however a political technique. No election is fought with out a political technique,” the judgment famous.

“The paramount responsibility and performance of the Chief Election Commissioner is to make sure that none of the political events or any of the candidates within the fray take pleasure in any corrupt practices and thereby affect the thoughts of the voters. However, it is rather troublesome to take the view that the outcome of the election to Firms could affect the thoughts of the voters within the second half of the election… It’s attainable, and to a sure extent fairly apparent, that the outcome of one half of the election could have its personal affect on the second half of the election, however that by itself wouldn’t be ample to say that the election isn’t free and honest,” the court docket famous. It noticed that “the ability of judicial evaluation shouldn’t be exercised except the executive resolution is illogical or suffers from procedural impropriety or it shocks the conscience of the court docket…”

The SEC had argued that the petitioners’ contentions have been primarily based on “the non-public notion…that if the outcomes of the election to the six municipal companies are declared previous to the election of the panchayats and municipalities, such outcome could affect the minds of the voters within the rural areas,” whereas additionally including that “such a concern or notion is totally imprecise and with none foundation.”

It was submitted by SEC, that for the elections that passed off in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2013 respectively, the date of declaration of the outcomes have been totally different.

Notably the same petition was moved earlier than the Gujarat HC in 2015 earlier than the native physique polls which went as much as the Supreme Court docket. Earlier than the SC, the SEC had agreed to undertake counting of municipal companies, municipalities and panchayat polls, solely after voting was concluded throughout all elected our bodies, in order to “allay the fears” of influencing voters.

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