Competitive Exams: Political Science Study Material Voter's Identity

The Voters Identity Card

  • Introduced in 1993 during the tenure of the former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan.

  • The card distribution to eligible voters has made slow progress in some States.

  • T N Seshan had even incurred the wrath of the judiciary for taking an unrelenting attitude with regard to the issue of cards.

  • His successor MS Gill acknowledged that it is not feasible to make the production of the card mandatory for voting. He made it compulsory for every voter to prove his or her identity by producing either the card or any of several other specified documents.

  • The EC continued the practice as there were no serious complaints of voter having been denied the opportunity to exercise their franchise owing to this requirement. Division Bench of the Allahabad HC held that a person who figures in the electoral roll cannot be denied the statutory right to vote merely on the ground that he or she does not possess any of the 18 documents specified by the Election Commission (EC), in lieu of the Elector's Photo Identity Card (EPIC) that the EC has issued to some voters for establishing identity.

  • The Court observed that the card was intended Jo facilitate the process of election in case of a challenge to the identity of an elector.

  • The court said that the voters in Voters'List could produce before the Presiding officer at the polling booths any valid document, even other than the 18 documents specified by the E. C, instead of the card, in order to establish their identity.

  • The Allahabad HC's judgement is an indicator that EC's requirement might be flawed. The argument runs as such:

  • The right to vote is a statutory right; the EC's insistence that voters establish their identity with the aid of a prescribed document if not an elector's Photo Identity Card, amounts to intervention by the Commission in the exercise of a statutory right.

  • The EC seems to have compromised the electoral process by insisting that the requirement is to be met with:

  • The Allahabad High Court pointed out that section 28_pf the Registration of Elector Rules 1961, clearly specifies the mode of identification of voter.

  • If the statute specifies that a particular procedure be followed, it is to be followed that way and in no other way, the court said.

  • The EC's requirement was justified by the virtue of Article 324 of the Constitution, and questioned the Allahabad High Court's powers to hear the matter once the notification for elections has been issued, in view of Article 324 (b).

  • Article 324 (1): According to the SC, it has wide cannotations so as to include therein such powers as are necessary for the effective holding of the elections.

  • The Article is intended to empower the EC to act in contingencies that are not provided for by law, and to pass necessary orders for the conduct of the election.

  • In its judgement, the Allahabad HC, citing a SC order, made it clear that Article 324 (1) was subject to the norms of fairness.

  • Under Article 329 (b), no election to Parliament or the State Legislatures shall be questioned except by means of an election petition presented Jo_a HC under the RPA (the Representation of the People's Act).

  • The term ‘election’ has been interpreted to include all steps and proceedings commencing from the date of notification till the date of declaration of the result.

  • Under this Article, if an election is called in to question, and this interrupts, obstructs, or protracts the election process, the involvement of the judicial remedy has to be postponed until after the elections in order to facilitate the functioning of the democracy.

  • The SC has held in the election appeal case that judicial intervention is allowable if the assistance of the court is sought to correct or smoothen election proceedings, to remove obstacles therein, or to preserve a vital piece of evidence if the same would be lost or destroyed or rendered irretrievable by the time the results are declared and the jurisdiction of the Court is valid

Delimitation

Delimitation is the redrawing of the boundaries of a parliamentary or an assembly constituency to make sure that there are, as near as practicable, the same number of people in each constituency.

Purpose of delimitation

The delimitation exercise is meant to remove the disparities in the size of various electoral constituencies throughout the country.

Who undertakes it?

In India, boundaries are meant to be examined after the ten-yearly census to reflect the changes in the population, for which the Parliament by law establishes an independent Delimitation Commission, made up of the Chief Election Commissioner and two judges or ex-judges from the Supreme Court or the High Court.