Six Gujarat local bodies to go to polls in February

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  A plea has been filed before the Supreme Court, seeking directions to the Election Commission to stop the practice of having party symbols on ballot and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), and replace them with name, age, educational qualification and photo of candidates.

The petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay came up for hearing before a bench headed by CJI SA Bobde, who  directed that a copy of the plea be served on Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

He didn’t issue a formal notice. The petition argued that ballot and EVM, without party symbols, will help electors support intelligent, diligent and honest candidates.

“List the matter after one week to enable the petitioner to serve a copy of this writ petition upon the learned Attorney General for India,” the bench said without issuing any formal notice on the PIL.

During the brief hearing, the bench asked senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Upadhyay, that it wants to know what the objections are to the election symbol on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Singh said the petitioner wants these details on EVMs to ascertain how popular is the candidate and they have written the Election Commission but have not received any response.

Singh further said that he has checked up in Brazil where one just gets numbers to contest and no symbols.

The bench again asked Singh as to how does a poll symbol prejudice the electronic voting process in any way to which he replied that he would explain the basis on the next date of hearing.

The plea filed by Upadhyay has sought directions to declare the use of party symbol on EVM illegal and violative of the Constitution.

It said that the best solution to weed corruption and criminalisation in politics is to replace political party symbols on ballot and EVM with name, age, educational qualification and photograph of the candidates.

The petition further said that ballot and EVM, without political party symbols, have many benefits as it will help electors to vote and support intelligent, diligent and honest candidates.

‘Ballot and EVMs, without political party symbol, will control dictatorship of political party bosses in ticket distribution and force them to give ticket to those who religiously work for people’s welfare,’ the plea has said.

Referring to a study done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-government organisation working in electoral reforms, the plea said that out of 539 MPs, 233 (43 per cent) have declared criminal cases against them.

‘Out of 542 winners analysed after 2014 election, 185 (34 per cent) had declared criminal cases against themselves and out of 543 winners analysed after 2009 Lok Sabha election, 162 (30 per cent) had declared criminal cases against themselves.

‘There is an increase of 44 per cent in the number of Lok Sabha MPs with declared criminal cases against themselves since 2009, and the root cause of this bizarre situation is the use of political party symbol on ballot paper and EVM,’ the plea said.

(With PTI Inputs)