This Article is From Mar 26, 2021

"Can Puducherry Polls Be Deferred?": High Court On Complaint Against BJP

The plea filed before the court alleged that the BJP had wrongfully accessed Aadhaar-linked mobile phone numbers of voters to send WhatsApp messages and invites

Puducherry Assembly election is scheduled for April 6, with results due May 2


The Madras High Court on Friday wanted to know if the Puducherry Assembly election - scheduled for April 6 - could be deferred in light of allegations the BJP had wrongfully accessed and misused voters' Aadhaar details, including phone numbers, for campaigning purposes.

"Why can't the Puducherry polls be deferred?" the court asked, as it directed the poll body to investigate and file a full report by March 30.

The plea filed before the court alleged that the BJP - part of the NR Congress alliance in the union territory, and which one polling agency predicts will win a massive majority - had accessed voters' Aadhaar-linked phone numbers to send WhatsApp messages and invites to groups.

The BJP has said it will file a response in court via its legal team.

The plea was filed by DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India) leader A Anand after he reportedly received a WhatsApp message from the BJP. Mr Anand said his own inquiries revealed the formation of such groups at each of the 950 booths.

"This is stealing of personal information... misusing seat of power. This is cyber-terrorism. They call us and ask to vote BJP. With Google Pay and Paytm connected to Aadhaar, they could bribe voters through easy cash transfers," he told NDTV.

In a hearing on Wednesday the court said this is "a matter of serious concern", pulled up the poll body for "passing the buck" and urged it to treat the matter with the seriousness it deserved.

"It will not do for the Election Commission to pass the buck in this case and say that the cyber crimes division is conducting an investigation. When the Election Commission is up and about in all other matters and asserts its primacy and authority, it has to look into this allegation immediately and with the degree of seriousness that it deserves," the two-member bench - of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy - said.

Puducherry votes for a new 30-member Assembly April 6, with results due May 2.

Last month the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government collapsed after six MLAs resigned. Two of those who quit then joined the BJP. Days later President's Rule was imposed.

The BJP doesn't have a strong presence in the UT but the party has struck an alliance with the NR Congress and will contest nine of 30 seats in the Assembly. A polling agency this week predicted the alliance would sweep 21 of those 30 seats.

In the 2016 election, the Congress won 15 seats, the All India NR Congress secured eight, the AIADMK four and the DMK two. The BJP could not win any.