The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant relief to those voters in Pune and Mumbai who found their names missing from the electoral rolls when they went to vote in the Lok Sabha election.
In a bunch of petitions filed before the court, petitioners from the two cities had sought the right to cast their vote. But the court refused to allow any supplementary polls and did not entertain pleas challenging the validity of certain sections of the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act on electoral rolls.
However, of the five petitions filed in the matter, the court dismissed one and admitted the other four. The hearing in those matters will continue after next month. In its interim order, it passed strictures against the petitioners for “missing the woods for the trees”.
“There is no adequate explanation forthcoming from the petitioners, who at least personally, are neither poor nor illiterate, as to the steps adopted by them to verify that their names continue on the electoral rolls,” the order passed by the Division Bench of Justices A.S. Oka and M.S. Sonak on Monday observed.
Citing Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, who was extensively quoted by the petitioners, the court said the stalwart had also urged citizens to be vigilant. “Dr. Ambedkar urges the Indian peoples to be vigilant and not tardy in shouldering the great responsibilities which beckon. Dr. Ambedkar gently warns the Indian peoples to recognise the evils that lie across our path and which induce people to prefer ‘government for the people to government by the people’.”
Accepting the Maharashtra government’s submission that it will soon revise the voters’ lists in Pune and Mumbai and dispose of applications for inclusion within 30 days, the court specified the names of three newspapers in the two cities in which the procedure for inclusion should be publicised.
This, it observed, was an additional measure apart from the ones already undertaken by the government. “It is made clear that such revision shall have no nexus with the ongoing Lok Sabha elections 2014.”
‘Palekar did not take timely steps’
One of the petitioners was actor Amol Palekar. The court observed that he had failed to take timely steps to ensure the inclusion of his name. “The records indicate that Mr. Amol Palekar addressed representations as late as on 19.04.2014 and 24.04.2014, when admittedly the draft election rolls were published on 16.09.2013 and final rolls on 31.01.2014.”
However, in an open letter (a copy of which was sent to The Hindu), the veteran actor asked: “When I had voted in the same Pune constituency thrice with the same address and identification, why am I expected to assume that my name will be missing from the voters’ list?”