AA Edit | VVPAT: Uphold rights of voters

Upholding Voter Confidence: The Role of the Supreme Court in Ensuring Free and Fair Elections

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court — while dealing with a batch of petitions seeking complete verification of votes cast through EVMs with VVPAT — observed that it cannot control elections and cannot control another constitutional authority.

While it is true that constitutional bodies must respect each other’s domains, the Constitution has envisaged the Supreme Court as the protector of people’s fundamental rights which are the cornerstone of any democracy.

In its majority judgment of seven judges in the case of Kesavananda Bharti vs State of Kerala (1973), the Supreme Court declared that democratic set-up was part of the basic structure of the Constitution. Expanding it further, a five-judge bench judgment in the case of Indira Nehru Gandhi vs Shri Raj Narain (1975), the Supreme Court said that “democracy further contemplates that the elections should be free and fair, so that the voters may be in a position to vote for candidates of their choice. Democracy can indeed function only upon the faith that elections are free and fair and not rigged and manipulated”.

In several other judgments referred to a petition related to the electoral bonds, the Supreme Court said that “under our Constitution, Article 19(1)(a) provides for freedom of speech and expression. Voter’s speech or expression in case of election would include casting of votes.”

If people’s faith in free and fair elections is important for the survival of the democracy, which the seven-judge Supreme Court bench had declared to be the basic structure of the Constitution, the Election Commission is duty-bound to convince a voter, if he or she expresses a doubt on whether his or her vote was rightly assigned to the candidate he or she wished to elect, that the existing mechanism to deliver the voter’s right to elect was fool-proof.

Similarly, after the election, if a citizen doubts whether his or her vote was not properly assigned to the candidate of his choice, he or she can file a mandamus petition against the Election Commission.

But in all issues relating to voter's faith, the apex court must stand for the citizen.

Next Story