A Public Interest Litigation petition was filed in the Bombay High Court on Monday seeking criminal action against the staff of the Pune Collector’s office for deleting around one lakh names from the voters’ list.

“This is a fraud committed by the Collector office. It has affected my fundamental right to vote in a democracy,” advocate V.P. Patil said.

Pune-based social worker Pratap Gaikwad filed the PIL against the Union of India, the Maharashtra government, and the National Law Commission Chairperson. He has pleaded that the right of the Pune voters be restored by the government.

The PIL also sought a stay on the results of Pune Lok Sabha elections till the hearing is complete.

Not a fundamental right

The court, while hearing the matter, observed that the right to vote was not a fundamental right. It said that the Election Commission was empowered to look into the allegations. “We can’t give any relief before the elections. We can’t stay the election. The process has already commenced,” Justice Naresh Patil observed.

When the petitioner said the matter was serious as it had led to the disenfranchisement of one lakh people, the court decided to hear the matter next week.

“Unconstitutional”

The PIL has challenged the validity of Article 329 of the Constitution. The article bars the courts from interfering in electoral matters. “The rights of the petitioner and alike cannot be taken away by any mode. The petitioner submits that he can file criminal complaint for electoral scam, however his rights to approach civil courts and high courts are barred, which itself is unconstitutional,” the PIL stated.

Mr. Gaikwad said that he holds a card issued by the Election Commission, and that he voted in all the previous elections. He claimed that like many others, his name too disappeared from the voters’ list abruptly this year. Terming it a “big scam in the largest democracy,” the PIL sought a Commission of Inquiry into it.