Hyderabadi Raises PIL Questioning The Safety Of Voters

Hyderabad: A Public Interest Litigation(PIL) has been filed with the high court questioning the safety of voters. The Bench has directed Election Commission(EC) to brief the court regarding the technology being used and what is the process followed to add or delete votes from the voter list, on Thursday.

Kodali Srinivas, a resident of Miyapur, is an engineer by profession. He has filed a PIL with the High Court last year to direct the EC that using a software and computer programme to delete votes is unconstitutional; EC should present to the court how they make changes to the voters’ list and the software used. This case, which is being dealt with by the Chief Justice, came to the hearing on Thursday.

The plaintiff counsel pleaded with the Court that the data given out by State Resident Data Hub to NRDH is being leaked. The information includes Aadhaar card details and personal information.

He pointed out with the Justice that getting to the information regarding the location of voter, region and caste is now easy. This data can be misused and the votes can be deleted.

Petitioner’s lawyer argued that off late the EC has been facing many allegations and it is one organisation which is expected to function as a role model and without any bias.

He revealed that EC has deleted 27,00,000 votes from Telangana and 17,00,000 votes from Andhra Pradesh using the software.

Meanwhile, the Justice opined that with the technology is updated and with Google any personal information about an individual can be learned and Voters right to privacy and voter list purity are two different things and should be viewed as different entities.

Later countering his argument the EC’s lawyer Avinash Desai said there is no truth in the claims made by the petitioner and the software used by EC recognises duplicate voters and never deletes voters on its own.

He further added if the vote is being removed from the list then the person will be notified and there is a facility that the voter can re-apply to the EC.

The Defence lawyer clarified that the data present with NRDH will be given to the political party, which seeks the data. In the addition and deletion of votes, the Returning officer has extensive rights. The EC, state governments and union government have no right to intervene in the functioning of the Returning officer.

After heeding to both the arguments EC had adjourned the next hearing on March 11, 2019. The bench consisting of chief Justice B Radhakrishnan, Justice A Rajasekhara Reddy has directed EC to file a counter with the process deployed to add or delete votes from the voter list? What is the technology being used? What are the merits and demerits of the procedure?

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