Supreme Court Has A Directive For Election Body Over Gujarat Elections

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said this after the poll panel submitted that it would not post any "tainted officers", including those against whom disciplinary proceedings have already been initiated.

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Supreme Court Has A Directive For Election Body Over Gujarat Elections

Gujarat Assembly elections would be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14


New Delhi:  The Supreme Court today directed the Election Commission to not post any official against whom disciplinary proceedings have been initiated in key positions for poll duty during the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said this after the poll panel submitted that it would not post any "tainted officers", including those against whom disciplinary proceedings have already been initiated.

"We direct that the ECI shall not post any officer/ official against whom the disciplinary proceedings have been initiated in any key position in any district," the bench, also comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

Gujarat Assembly elections would be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14.

However, the bench refused to direct the EC to install CCTV cameras inside polling booths.

"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," it said.

The top court's order came while hearing a plea filed by Prakash Joshi, secretary of the All India Congress Committee, in which he had also sought directions to the EC for framing guidelines for counting of votes through Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.

During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that regarding the prayer to implement instructions on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) with VVPAT, the EC has already implemented it.

He said that the poll panel already has guidelines for counting of votes through VVPATs.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha, appearing for the petitioner, told the Supreme Court that officials like collectors and superintendent of police (SPs) cannot be posted on contract in the poll-bound state.

Regarding the plea for installation of CCTV cameras inside the polling booth, the bench observed that it cannot expose a voter on camera while he or she is casting vote.

The petition has said the poll panel should be directed not to post any official, who is facing any inquiry or disciplinary proceedings, in key positions in the districts on contract basis or on extension of time from services.

The plea has said they had made representations to the EC on these issues but no decision was taken by it.

In August, the EC had told the apex court that it would be able to conduct the Gujarat assembly elections using EVMs with VVPAT machines.

The ECI had told this to the court which was hearing a separate petition seeking direction for use of VVPAT machines in Gujarat Assembly polls.

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