Parties doubting there’s something fishy: Sibal on EC not putting out booth-wise turnout data


PTI, May 23, 2024, 3:06 PM IST

Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Thursday said the Election Commission not putting out the polling station-wise voter turnout data on its website has given rise to doubts among political parties that there is ”something fishy” and wondered what the problem is in uploading the data.

Sibal, a senior advocate, asked what the problem is in putting out polling station-wise turnout data when all the details in Form 17C are given to the polling agent at the end of voting.

His remarks came a day after the Election Commission told the Supreme Court that ”indiscriminate disclosure” of polling station-wise turnout data and posting it on its website would cause chaos in the election machinery, which is already in motion for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The poll panel said public posting of Form 17C — which gives the number of votes polled in a polling station — was not provided in the statutory framework and could lead to mischief and vitiation of the entire electoral space as it increased the possibility of the images being morphed.

Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Sibal said the Election Commission filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that it had no legal mandate to upload Form 17C, which is a record of the votes polled at a polling station.

”Form 17C is signed by a presiding officer and given to the polling agent at the end of the poll, which indicates the number of votes polled. The information is also directly sent to the Election Commission of India (ECI). Now why does the ECI not put that data on the website? What’s the problem? Just like the EC at the time of counting, EC puts the final count on its website to indicate who has won (it should put this out also),” Sibal said.

”What can happen in the process is that the number of votes that are counted would in fact be more than the number of votes that are polled. We don’t know whether that is correct or not. What is the hesitation of the EC in putting that data on its website? Nobody can morph it. That will be tallied with the data of the polling agent,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.

The poll authority not doing so is resulting in parties having doubts that ”there is something fishy”, Sibal said.

The Election Commission also dismissed as false and misleading the allegation that the first two phases of the elections witnessed an increase of ”5-6 per cent” in the voter turnout data released on the day of polling and in the subsequent press releases for each of the two rounds.

The poll authority stated this in an affidavit filed in the apex court in response to a plea of an NGO, seeking a direction to the Election Commission to upload polling station-wise turnout data on its website within 48 hours of the conclusion of polling for each phase of the Lok Sabha elections.

”It is submitted that if the reliefs sought by the petitioner is allowed, it will not only be in teeth of the aforesaid legal position but will also cause chaos in the election machinery, which is already in motion for the ongoing general elections to the Lok Sabha, 2024,” the poll panel said in its 225-page affidavit.

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