Writ Petition (Civil) – “(a) Issue an appropriate writ, order or direction to the Respondents to issue directions for conducting VVPAT verification at least 10% randomly selected polling stations Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 1 of 22 2 in each assembly constituency/assembly segment to ensure free and fair elections; (b) issue an appropriate writ, order or direction to the Respondents to publish voter list in text format as per rules, and to expeditiously decide all complaints qua final publication of voter list under Rules 22(1)(c) of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 and to prohibit deletion of voters from the voter list without intimation to political parties; (c) issue an appropriate writ, order or direction to the Respondents to issue fresh guidelines qua VVPAT whilst considering the grounds/issues raised in the present writ petition, including but not limited to random VVPAT checks, mock polls and recounting, quality of Thermal Paper and printing, collection of Paper Trails and storage, unique identification numbers on VVPAT and paper trail collection boxes, transportation of EVMs and VVPAT before and after polls, First Level Checking (FLC) of VVPAT and posting of officials; and (d) any such further and other order/orders be passed as may be necessary and deemed fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case to subserve the interest of justice.= “Mr. K.K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General submits that as far as Prayer (a) is concerned, the Election Commission of India has already implemented the same. The situation is accorded to by Mr. Amit Sharma, learned counsel for the Election Commission of India. As far as Prayer (b) is concerned, it is urged by Mr. K.K. Venugopal that guidelines have already been brought by the Election Commission of India. The same is disputed by Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mr. Vivek Tankha, learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner. We leave it to the discretion of 4 Decided on October 30, 2017 in W.P. (C) No. 983 of 2017 Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 20 of 22 21 the Election Commission of India, as we are not inclined to enter into the said arena. As far as Prayer (c) is concerned, it is submitted by Mr. K.K. Venugopal that the Election Commission of India has issued appropriate guidelines, and this Court may say that no officer/official against whom disciplinary proceedings have been initiated shall be posted in any key positions. Having heard Mr. K.K. Venugopal, we direct that the Election Commission of India shall not post any officer/official against whom the disciplinary proceedings has been initiated in any key position in any district. As far as prayer (d) concerning installation of CCTV cameras inside the polling booth to watch the mobility of persons inside the polling booth and display of such videograph alongwith the number of votes poll outside the polling booth on a display board is concerned, we are of the considered opinion that the same is not permissible and accordingly, the said prayer stands rejected. The writ petition is accordingly disposed of.”

1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 935 OF 2018
KAMAL NATH …..PETITIONER(S)
VERSUS
ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA
AND OTHERS …..RESPONDENT(S)
WITH
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 1000 OF 2018
J U D G M E N T
A.K.SIKRI, J.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 is filed by the petitioner,
who is the President of the Madhya Pradesh Congress
Committee, claiming the following reliefs:
“(a) Issue an appropriate writ, order or direction to the
Respondents to issue directions for conducting VVPAT
verification at least 10% randomly selected polling stations
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 1 of 22
2
in each assembly constituency/assembly segment to
ensure free and fair elections;
(b) issue an appropriate writ, order or direction to the
Respondents to publish voter list in text format as per rules,
and to expeditiously decide all complaints qua final
publication of voter list under Rules 22(1)(c) of the
Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 and to prohibit
deletion of voters from the voter list without intimation to
political parties;
(c) issue an appropriate writ, order or direction to the
Respondents to issue fresh guidelines qua VVPAT whilst
considering the grounds/issues raised in the present writ
petition, including but not limited to random VVPAT checks,
mock polls and recounting, quality of Thermal Paper and
printing, collection of Paper Trails and storage, unique
identification numbers on VVPAT and paper trail collection
boxes, transportation of EVMs and VVPAT before and after
polls, First Level Checking (FLC) of VVPAT and posting of
officials; and
(d) any such further and other order/orders be passed
as may be necessary and deemed fit and proper in the
facts and circumstances of the case to subserve the
interest of justice.
2. As can be seen from the aforesaid prayer clause, essentially two
reliefs are prayed for. First relief is for issuance of directions for
conducting Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) verification
on random basis for 10% of the votes. In the second place,
direction is sought to provide to the petitioner soft copies of the
draft electoral rolls published on July 31, 2018 in text format; to
decide complaints pertaining to voter list expeditiously; and to
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 2 of 22
3
prohibit deletion of voters from the voter list without intimation to
the political parties.
3. In Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1000 of 2018, similar reliefs were
pressed. However, the facts as they appear in Writ Petition (Civil)
No. 935 of 2018 are taken note of.
4. We would like to place on record, at the outset, that the detailed
arguments which were advanced by the petitioner were highly
concentrated on the second prayer, that too for providing soft
copies of the draft electoral rolls in text format. Insofar as the first
relief is concerned, objection was raised by Mr. Vikas Singh,
learned senior counsel appearing for respondent No.1 – Election
Commission of India (hereinafter referred to as ‘ECI’), to the
maintainability of such a prayer on the ground that this issue has
already been dealt with by this Court. We will take note of the
respective submissions on this aspect at the appropriate stage.
Since, the second prayer has become the bone of contention, in
the first instance, we would like to deal with that aspect.
5. The main reason for which the petitioner is seeking direction to
the respondents to publish voter list in text format and supply the
same is that it is necessitated to ensure that the voter list is
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 3 of 22
4
properly and fairly drawn, which includes all the eligible voters on
the one hand and also excludes the duplicate, fake or incorrect
voters. It is stated by the petitioner that he along with senior
leaders from the State of Madhya Pradesh submitted a detailed
representation on June 03, 2018 highlighting various duplicate,
repeat, multiple, illegal, invalid and false entries/voters in the
electoral rolls of Madhya Pradesh for Assembly Elections, 2018
and the ECI was requested to address the same. As per the
petitioner, there is an increase by 40% in numbers of voters vis-avis
population numbers of electors in the State of Madhya
Pradesh since the last Assembly Election, i.e. in the last five
years. It is contended that if voters/electors with birth year 1991-
2001 will attain age of 18 years between 2008-2018, it can be
reasonably expected that new voters added in the years 2008-
2018 would be similar to the increase in population i.e.
1,18,18,290. However, it is shocking and alarming to see that
increase in total number of voters i.e. 1,45,13,404 (more than
40% increase) in the corresponding increase in population during
2008-2018. Therefore, this additional increase over and above
the population increase i.e. 26.95 lakhs of votes in the State of
Madhya Pradesh seems inconceivable and incalculable.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 4 of 22
5
6. The petitioner, accordingly, made representations to the ECI to
take appropriate action to rectify the mistakes. The ECI sent
letter dated July 16, 2018 to the All India Congress Committee
(AICC), inter alia, stating that the allegations made in the
representation dated June 03, 2018 preferred by the petitioner
are not substantiated. At the same time, the ECI had also
admitted, to the following effect, that there were some duplicate
and fake entries in the voter list:
“(a) INTRA AC – 9664 were found in the repeated entry
(b) INTER AC – 8278 cases were found in the repeated
entry
(c) Photo Entries – 2,37,234 photo entries found to be
suspicious/unclear/blank photos;”
7. The petitioner also submits that the ECI has, thereafter, dropped
more than twenty four lakh voters from the voter list of the State
of Madhya Pradesh published in January 2018. The ECI has also
admitted that 2,37,234 photo entries are found to be suspicious,
unclear and blank photos. On the aforesaid premise, the
petitioner submits that the political parties should be provided
voter list in text format so that they are in a position to
electronically scan the same and find out whether there are any
duplicate or fake voters in the voter list prepared by the ECI.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 5 of 22
6
8. In support of the aforesaid demand of supply of electoral roll in
PDF form in text mode, Mr. Kapil Sibal, learned senior counsel,
referred to Clause 11.2.2.2 of Chapter XI of the Election Manual
2016 which reads as under:
“11.2.2.2 Putting draft roll on website:- Additionally, the
draft roll shall be put in public domain, at Chief Electoral
Officer’s website, in a PDF format on the same day. The
draft roll shall be put on website in a text mode and no
photographs would appear against the elector’s details.
Instead it would indicate in the box meant for the
photograph of elector whether the photograph is available
or not.”
9. It was argued that as per the aforesaid clause contained in the
Election Manual itself, the ECI was required to prepare the draft
roll in text mode, al beit without photographs. The purpose was
to enable the political parties to analyse and scrutinise the data
and based thereupon to give any suggestions that are needed or
submit objections if it is found that there are duplicate or fake
voters. As against the aforesaid mandate, the ECI has provided
Compact Discs (CDs) containing draft electoral roll published on
July 31, 2018 in PDF non-editable form for all 230 constituencies
of the State of Madhya Pradesh. Such scanned copies are in fact
images and, therefore, inadequate for the purpose of scrutiny
wherein data cannot be analysed. It is also stated that in 2013
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 6 of 22
7
Assembly Elections in Madhya Pradesh, draft electoral rolls were
provided in text mode. Similarly, draft electoral rolls, as published
on July 31, 2018 for the State of Rajasthan, have also been
provided in text mode. Departure made in the instant case is
questioned as unreasonable.
10. The ECI has filed a detailed counter affidavit. It is stated that the
ECI has put the voter list on website in text mode and even
images on the website are in text mode. However, the ECI has
taken a conscious decision not to give copies of these voter list to
the political parties in scannable text mode keeping in view the
issue of privacy of voters. Various averments in the writ petition
are strongly refuted in the counter affidavit. The ECI has stated
that the petitioner had submitted a representation dated June 03,
2018 regarding various duplicate, repeat, multiple entries/voters
in the electoral rolls of Madhya Pradesh for Assembly elections.
As per the complaint received, 26.76 lakh records were submitted
for ‘Within AC’ of 91 Constituencies and 26.74 lakh records of
‘Across AC’ of 101 Constituencies. All these entires have been
verified physically in a door-to-door campaign. In physical
verification, 23,67,487 electors were found present, 2,34,596
electors were either deleted already or not found enrolled in the
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 7 of 22
8
respective constituencies. In 46,859 cases, electors were found
to be absent and 16,675 electors were found to be deceased. In
all such cases, the action for deletion has already been taken. It
is emphasised that only 8,728 cases were found in the repeated
entry category against which appropriate action has already been
initiated as per law.
11. The ECI accepts that during the process of continuous updation
from January 19, 2018 to July 31, 2018, there was a net deletion
of around 24 lakhs entries from the electoral roll and it is also
correct that more than 2 lakh photo entries were flagged as being
unclear/blank/repeated photos but out of these entries, 1,04,284
entries were found to be valid and only 97,687 entries had to be
corrected during the aforementioned continuous updation of the
electoral roll. Explanation given is that electoral roll updation is a
continuous and ongoing process and the ECI as well as the
office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Madhya Pradesh are
committed to ensuring the purity and correctness of the electoral
roll through continuous addition or deletion of names of electors
on the basis of door-to-door survey by Block Level Officers
(BLOs) and by processing all sort of information gathered through
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 8 of 22
9
NSVP, CEO website or complaints received through the helpline
number (1950), etc.
12. It is also claimed that the ECI has been taking transparency
measures in electoral registration. The recognized political
parties are supplied, free of cost, two copies (one hard copy in
pdf with image of electors and another in soft copy without image
of electors) of the electoral roll of the constituencies at the time of
draft publication and final publication under the provision of Rule
11(c) and 22(c) of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.
Further, the unrecognized registered political parties/NGOs/public
can obtain soft copy of the electoral roll (without images of
electors) in a CD in pdf format on a nominal price of Rs.100/- only
per CD, containing the electoral roll of an Assembly Constituency,
on request. In addition to the above, as per the ECI’s existing
instructions, image PDF of electoral rolls are published on
website of Chief Electoral Officer of the State concerned so as to
be placed in the public domain for view of general public. The
general public can access such image PDF of electoral rolls
through captcha containing alphabet, numeral and special
characters.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 9 of 22
10
13. On the basis of the aforesaid averments, Mr. Vikas Singh argued
that the ECI itself does the exercise of de-duplication which was
informed to the political parties also in the meeting which was
conducted by it. He also submitted with vehemence that
representation dated June 03, 2018 of the petitioner was replied
on June 08, 2018 wherein it was clearly stated that corrections
had already been carried out. According to him, these corrections
took place on May 25, 2018 itself, i.e. even before the
representation dated June 03, 2018 was submitted by the
petitioner. It was duly communicated on June 08, 2018.
Thereafter, draft voter list was published on July 31, 2018 wherein
all the concerns have already been taken care of. Highlighting
the issue of privacy of voters, it was argued by Mr. Vikas Singh
that in case voter list is supplied in text form, it will enable data
mining of various nature. For this reason, there was a re-look into
the matter and the ECI had decided to provide the list in image
form. It was submitted that Clause 11.2.2.2 of Chapter XI of
Election Manual 2016, on which reliance was placed, does not
require supply of draft voter list in searchable text mode. In any
case, it was only an administrative manual and had no statutory
force. This can always be suitably amended by the ECI having
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 10 of 22
11
regard to the exigencies. Therefore, there was a conscious
decision in the form of instructions dated January 4, 2018 to
supply non-searchable text mode in view of the safety and
privacy concerns of the voters. Mr. Vikas Singh submitted that
right to privacy has now been recognised as a fundamental right
in K.S. Puttaswamy and Another v. Union of India and Others1
and it becomes the duty of the ECI to take care of that.
14. It can be discerned that the real issue is whether voter list is to be
supplied to the political parties in text mode; albeit in PDF form.
Therefore, our discussion concentrates on this issue.
15. There is no doubt about the bona fides of the ECI. It is a matter
of record that in the last 25-30 years, ECI has built up the
reputation of an impartial body which strives to hold fair elections.
It is a Constitutional Authority and has been discharging its
functions quite satisfactorily. People of this country, by and large,
trust this institution for its impartial manner of discharging its
functions. That is absolutely essential as well in a democratic
polity where ‘We, the people’ elect the representatives to the
legislative assemblies of the State as well as Parliament at the
1 (2017) 10 SCC 1
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 11 of 22
12
Centre. It is the will of the people which should be truly translated
into reality. In that sense, the function of ECI becomes very
important and it is supposed to discharge the same with utmost
integrity, impartiality and objectivity. In re: Special Reference No.
1 of 20022
, this Court emphasised the importance of Election
Commission in the following manner:
“105. …The duty of the Election Commission is to conduct
fresh election and see that a democratically elected
Government is installed at the earliest and any decision by
the Election Commission, which is intended to defeat this
very avowed object of forming an elected Government can
certainly be challenged before the Court if the decision
taken by the Election Commission is perverse,
unreasonable or for extraneous reasons and if the decision
of the Election Commission is vitiated by any of these
grounds the Court can give appropriate direction for the
conduct of the election.”
16. In the process of conducting fair elections, the ECI is also
supposed to ensure that only genuine voters cast their votes. It
has to ensure that there are no duplicate, fake or incorrect voters
in the voting list prepared by it. It has also to ensure that genuine
voters are not left out. Voter list should, therefore, be genuine in
all respects. It is for this reason the ECI prepares draft voter list.
While doing so, it attempts to remove duplicate, repeat or fake
voters. It also endeavours to include all genuine voters. This
2 (2002) 8 SCC 237
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 12 of 22
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process is not only undertaken with the aid of mechanical
devices, namely, computer etc. but by sending its manpower on
door-to-door basis. For the same reason, namely, to ensure that
voter lists are flawless, these lists are put on the website for the
voters to see and those who are excluded can make
grievance/representation about the same. Likewise, for the same
reason, the copies of the voter lists are supplied to the political
parties as well and their objections are invited. This is done to
give chance to the political parties to go through these lists so
that they are able to point out any errors, if any, in these lists.
The ECI even holds all party meetings for this purpose where
such issues are discussed.
17. The ECI claims that it has taken all necessary steps in this behalf.
18. It is stated by the ECI on affidavit that draft electoral roll of
January 19, 2018 was rectified by ECI around May 25, 2018,
whereas the first complaint of the petitioner and the political party
to which he is affiliated regarding duplication/multiplication of
voters is dated June 03, 2018. Thereafter, ECI gave a detailed
reply to the petitioner and his political party on June 08, 2018,
June 15, 2018 and July 16, 2018, pointing out that the electoral
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 13 of 22
14
rolls had been rectified. Furthermore, ECI also supplied a copy of
the rectified draft electoral roll to the petitioner, and the political
party to which he is affiliated, on July 31, 2018. It was also stated
at the bar that ECI has also now published the Final Electoral Roll
on September 27, 2018 and supplied a copy of the same to the
petitioner (and his political party) wherein all such
defects/discrepancies find no place as they have already been
rectified earlier. The ECI has explained that revision and
updation of the electoral roll is a continuous process, which the
ECI is diligently pursuing continuously3
.
19. In the aforesaid context, we need to examine the demand of the
petitioner for supply of electoral roll in text format. This demand
is based upon Clause 11.2.2.2 of the Election Manual which has
already been reproduced above. This clause places an obligation
on the ECI to put the draft roll on its website in PDF format. The
purpose is to bring it in public domain so that each voter is able to
3 It may be mentioned that Mr. Vikas Singh, learned senior counsel, appearing for the ECI took
strong exception to the production of documents from a private website on September 20, 2018
and handing over the same to the Court during hearing wherein on the basis it was sought to be
demonstrated that there were mistakes in the electoral rolls inasmuch as same face was shown
against as many as 36 voters. He submitted that it was done to prejudice and mislead this Court
as the aforesaid error pointed out by the petitioner had already been rectified around May 25,
2018 and this fact is informed to the petitioner as well. According to him, thereafter there was no
cause in filing the present petition and, in any case, no reason to submit the said document. Mr.
Sibal, learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner, on the other hand, contended that the
purpose of producing the aforesaid document was to show that glaring mistakes of this kind
have been committed earlier, which could be rectified only after the petitioner pointed out these
mistakes. Be that as it may, we leave the matter at that.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 14 of 22
15
access the same and find out whether his/her name is correctly
shown and in case of any error, the said voter is in a position to
get the same rectified. Likewise, in case a particular voter is
missing from the list, that individual would be in a position to take
up the matter with the ECI for inclusion of his/her name. A copy
thereof is also given to the political parties as well, because these
political parties have equal interest in ensuring that the aforesaid
mistakes are removed. They can additionally check as to
whether there are duplicate or fake voters also in the list and seek
correction thereof. To this extent, there is no quarrel. However,
the second part of the aforesaid clause mentions that draft roll
would be put in a ‘text mode’. It also states that no photograph
would appear against the electors’ details. The entire dispute
hinges upon the meaning that is to be assigned to ‘text mode’.
The argument of the petitioner is that ‘text mode’ is the one which
provides searching techniques as well. For this purpose,
following description of ‘full text search’ from Wikipedia is
produced:
“In text retrieval, full-text search refers to techniques for
searching a single computer-stored document or a
collection in a full-text database. Full-text search is
distinguished from searches based on metadata or on
parts of the original texts represented in databases (such
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 15 of 22
16
as titles, abstracts, selected sections, or bibliographical
references).
In a full-text search, a search engine examines all of the
words in every stored document as it tries to match search
criteria (for example, text specified by a user). Full-textsearching
techniques became common in online
bibliographic databases in the 1990s. Many websites and
application programs (such as word processing software)
provide full-text-search capabilities. Some web search
engines, such as AltaVista, employ full-text-search
techniques, while others index only a portion of the web
pages examined by their indexing systems.
20. Refutation of Mr. Vikas Singh is that ‘text mode’ in Clause
11.2.2.2 of the Election Manual relates to the ‘content’ of the draft
electoral roll and not its ‘format’. It is argued that prescription in
the aforesaid clause of the Manual requires putting the draft
electoral roll in text mode which would mean that it should contain
only the text of the elector’s details such as his name, address,
age, etc. and not his/her photograph. It is explained that any PDF
document generally contains two kinds of content: (i) Text and (ii)
Pictures/Photographs/Pictorial Content. Any elector’s details
would include his name, age, address, etc. (i.e. ‘the text part’) as
well as his photograph (i.e. ‘the photograph/picture/pictorial
content part’). Thus, the use of the phrase ‘text mode’ in Clause
11.2.2.2 of the Election Manual only means that the draft electoral
roll put up on the Chief Electoral Officer’s website shall only
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 16 of 22
17
contain ‘text’ of the elector’s details and not his/her
‘photographs/pictures/pictorial content’. It is also explained that
every PDF document, whether it is a searchable or nonsearchable/Image
PDF and which contains any text content in a
‘Text Mode’ is PDF in that sense. It is further submitted that there
is nothing called a ‘Text Mode’ format of a PDF document. A
simple ‘Google search’ in that regard would also clearly and
conclusively establish the same.
21. We find force in the submission of the ECI. Clause 11.2.2.2 of
the Election Manual uses the expression ‘text mode’. The draft
electoral roll in that mode, i.e. text mode, has been supplied to
the petitioner. The clause nowhere says that the draft electoral
roll has to be put up on the Chief Electoral Officer’s website in a
‘searchable PDF’. Therefore, the petitioner cannot claim, as a
right, that the draft electoral roll should be placed on the website
in a ‘searchable mode’. It has only to be in ‘text mode’ and it is so
provided.
22. The document from Wikipedia relied upon by the petitioner
relates to ‘full text search’ and not ‘text mode’. Obviously, when
the said document explains how ‘full text search’ is to be
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 17 of 22
18
undertaken, the explanation would be that it is a search engine
which examines all of the words in every stored documents and
would provide full text searching techniques as well. However,
the absence of the words ‘search’ in Clause 11.2.2.2 of the
Election Manual would make all the difference.
23. It is rightly explained by the ECI that PDF documents are
primarily of two types/formats, namely:
(i) “Image-only” or Scanned PDFs – When scanning hard copy
documents on MFPs and office scanners, or when converting a
camera image, jpg, tiff or screenshot into a PDF, the content is
“locked” in a snapshot-like image, without an underlying text
layer. Such image-only PDF documents contain just the
scanned/photographed images of pages. Image-only PDF files
are not searchable, and their text usually cannot be selected,
searches or copied.
(ii) Searchable PDFs – In Searchable PDFs, a text layer is
added to the image layer, usually placed underneath. Such PDF
files are almost indistinguishable from the original documents and
are fully searchable. Text in searchable PDF documents can be
selected, searched and copied.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 18 of 22
19
24. Once we find that Clause 11.2.2.2 does not entitle the petitioner
to get the draft electoral roll in the text mode which is searchable
as well viz. in ‘full text search’ form, it is for the ECI to decide
about the format in which the draft electoral roll is to be published.
ECI has given the reasons for not adhering to the request of the
petitioner in providing draft electoral roll in searchable PDF
format. According to it, issues of privacy of voters are involved
and the move of ECI is aimed at prevention of voter profiling and
data mining. According to ECI, ensuring free and fair elections, to
which it is committed, also necessitates that ECI is duty bound to
protect the privacy and profiling of electors. Therefore, it is duty
bound to take all precautionary measures. However, it is not
necessary to go into this aspect.
25. One we read and interpret Clause 11.2.2.2 of the Election Manual
in the aforesaid manner, the decision taken by the ECI which is
contained in its Instructions dated January 4, 2018 becomes
relevant. In those Instructions, ECI has directed its field level
functionaries to put only the ‘Image PDF’ of electoral roll in the
public domain. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the format in
which the draft electoral roll is supplied to the petitioner fulfills the
requirement contained in the Election Manual. It may be added
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 19 of 22
20
that if the petitioner so wants, he can always convert it into
searchable mode which, of course, would require him to put his
own efforts.
26. Other relief which is claimed by the petitioner is to seek directions
for conducting VVPAT verification at least 10% randomly selected
polling stations in each assembly constituency/assembly segment
to ensure free and fair elections. In this behalf, our attention was
drawn by the respondents to Rule 56(d). It was also submitted by
the respondents that this issue cannot be raised by the petitioner
having regard to the orders passed on earlier occasions in few
writ petitions which were filed on this aspect. The respondents
referred to orders passed in Prakash Joshi v. Election
Commission of India4
. In that case also, where identical prayer
was made, the petition was disposed of by orders dated October
30, 2017 in the following manner:
“Mr. K.K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General submits that
as far as Prayer (a) is concerned, the Election Commission
of India has already implemented the same. The situation
is accorded to by Mr. Amit Sharma, learned counsel for the
Election Commission of India. As far as Prayer (b) is
concerned, it is urged by Mr. K.K. Venugopal that
guidelines have already been brought by the Election
Commission of India. The same is disputed by Mr. Kapil
Sibal and Mr. Vivek Tankha, learned senior counsel
appearing for the petitioner. We leave it to the discretion of
4 Decided on October 30, 2017 in W.P. (C) No. 983 of 2017
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 20 of 22
21
the Election Commission of India, as we are not inclined to
enter into the said arena. As far as Prayer (c) is concerned,
it is submitted by Mr. K.K. Venugopal that the Election
Commission of India has issued appropriate guidelines,
and this Court may say that no officer/official against whom
disciplinary proceedings have been initiated shall be
posted in any key positions.
Having heard Mr. K.K. Venugopal, we direct that the
Election Commission of India shall not post any
officer/official against whom the disciplinary proceedings
has been initiated in any key position in any district.
As far as prayer (d) concerning installation of CCTV
cameras inside the polling booth to watch the mobility of
persons inside the polling booth and display of such
videograph alongwith the number of votes poll outside the
polling booth on a display board is concerned, we are of
the considered opinion that the same is not permissible
and accordingly, the said prayer stands rejected.
The writ petition is accordingly disposed of.”
27. Another writ petition being W.P.(C) No. 1012 of 20175
was filed
before this Court in October 2017 itself, with almost identical
prayer. This was dismissed in limine on November 20, 2017. In
the counter affidavit, ECI has also referred to similar writ petitions
filed in the High Court of Gujarat, which met the same fate.
28. In view of the orders dated October 30, 2017 passed in W.P.(C)
No. 983 of 2017 and on the basis of statement given by the ECI
in the Court, we do not intend to entertain this relief.
5 Manubhai Chavada v. Election Commission of India & Ors.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 21 of 22
22
The writ petitions are accordingly dismissed.
………………………………………J.
(A.K. SIKRI)
………………………………………J.
(ASHOK BHUSHAN)
NEW DELHI;
OCTOBER 12, 2018
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 935 of 2018 & Anr. Page 22 of 22