PIL in SC seeks removal of election symbols from ballots, EVMs; court seeks AG's view

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New Delhi, Mar 19 (PTI) The Supreme Court Friday asked the Attorney General for his view on a PIL seeking direction to the Election Commission to remove party symbols from the ballots and EVMs and replace them with the 'name, age, educational qualification and photograph' of the contestants to help voters know their candidates.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian sought to know the basis of the objection to party symbols on EVMs, and asked the petitioner -- BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay -- to serve a copy of his petition to Attorney General K K Venugopal.

“List the matter after one week to enable the petitioner to serve a copy of this writ petition upon the learned Attorney General for India,” the bench said without issuing any formal notice on the PIL.

During the brief hearing, the bench asked senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Upadhyay, that it wants to know what the objections are to the election symbol on Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Singh said the petitioner wants these details on EVMs to ascertain how popular is the candidate and they have written the Election Commission but have not received any response.

Singh further said that he has checked up in Brazil where one just gets numbers to contest and no symbols.

The bench again asked Singh as to how does a poll symbol prejudice the electronic voting process in any way to which he replied that he would explain the basis on the next date of hearing.

The plea filed by Upadhyay has sought directions to declare the use of party symbol on EVM illegal and violative of the Constitution.

It said that the best solution to weed corruption and criminalisation in politics is to replace political party symbols on ballot and EVM with name, age, educational qualification and photograph of the candidates.

The petition further said that ballot and EVM, without political party symbols, have many benefits as it will help electors to vote and support intelligent, diligent and honest candidates.

'Ballot and EVMs, without political party symbol, will control dictatorship of political party bosses in ticket distribution and force them to give ticket to those who religiously work for people's welfare,' the plea has said.

Referring to a study done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-government organisation working in electoral reforms, the plea said that out of 539 MPs, 233 (43 per cent) have declared criminal cases against them.

'Out of 542 winners analysed after 2014 election, 185 (34 per cent) had declared criminal cases against themselves and out of 543 winners analysed after 2009 Lok Sabha election, 162 (30 per cent) had declared criminal cases against themselves.

'There is an increase of 44 per cent in the number of Lok Sabha MPs with declared criminal cases against themselves since 2009, and the root cause of this bizarre situation is the use of political party symbol on ballot paper and EVM,' the plea said. PTI SJK MNL SA