Army Officials Away From Hometown Can Also Vote

16th Lok Sabha Polls Scheduled To Start From 7th April
  • Election Commission (EC) to allow defence personnel to vote followed by the Supreme Court’s judgment.
  • This move from SC is being viewed differently. Similar judgments in 1971 were because of the circumstances then different.
  • RPA Act, 1950 defines the term ‘ordinarily resident’ in Section 20, a qualification required to get registered as a voter.
  • Armed forces people are defined under a different category as ‘service qualification’ in Section 20(8) and are given a special dispensation in Section 20(3) and Section 20(5).
  • As a result the place of armed personnel’s posting could not be their ordinary place of residence.
  • In Nagaland Assembly Election held in 1969 court rejected permission for army men to vote.
  • The Court declared statutory fiction in Section 20(3) gave the right to personnel to claim registration at their home town or village.
  • Retired service officers, Member of Parliament are supporting the campaign in the latest verdict of the Supreme Court.
  • In certain border places the local voter population may be small and can be more by the service personnel —applicability of court order limited to only peace stations.
  • As a larger number of service personnel are at Haryana and Punjab, competitive canvassing by politicians can lead to other problems.
  • The formation commanders can be accused of favoritism, as happened in the Punjab Assembly election in 2007.
  • Will the Election Commissioner be petitioned to effect the transfer of a formation commander because of his perceived partiality?
  • A study done at EC’s behest by Thanjavur Collector in 2007 showed that only
    • 34.54 % of postal ballot papers issued to service personnel returned in time to be included in counting.
    • 12.63 % were received late and missed the counting.
    • 25.39 % were returned undelivered, due to addresses not being updated by the Record Office.
  • One solution to this is cutting transmission time. Blank ballot papers can be sent electronically or even better solution is to develop a strong online voting system.

Exams Perspective:

  1. ECI
  2. Postal Ballot
  3. Voting For Armed Forces Personnel
  4. Electronic Voting