Soldiers get SC nod to register as voters in place of posting | Mint
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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Soldiers get SC nod to register as voters in place of posting
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Soldiers get SC nod to register as voters in place of posting

The court's order will allow defence personnel posted at such stations as on 1 Jan and continue to be posted there till date to be registered as general voters

The Supreme Court asked the Centre to provide within two days from Monday the data of such peace stations to the election commission and also take all necessary steps to make postal ballot effective. Photo: MintPremium
The Supreme Court asked the Centre to provide within two days from Monday the data of such peace stations to the election commission and also take all necessary steps to make postal ballot effective. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: With the country in election mode, the Supreme Court on Monday said defence personnel in areas where there are no active conflicts can get registered as voters in the constituency of their posting, and rebuked the Election Commission (EC) for coming in the way of the “right to vote of service personnel".

In effect, the court’s interim order would allow defence personnel posted at such stations as on 1 January 2014 and continue to be posted there till date to be registered as “general voters" in constituencies where the polling process has not yet begun.

This will exclude 225 Lok Sabha constituencies where 1.3 million of a total 1.55 million personnel whose registration process for postal ballot is already complete, the EC told the court.

Defence personnel have been in the sights of all main political parties in the run-up to the general election. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi pushed the United Progressive Alliance government for a one-rank, one-pension scheme, which finance minister P. Chidambaram announced in the interim budget with an allocation of 500 crore.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently inducted former army chief V.K. Singh in the party and gave him a Lok Sabha ticket from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. Both Gandhi and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, in their speeches, have talked about giving priority to the interests of defence personnel.

Rules require defence personnel to be working in a specific area and living with their families for at least three years to vote from the constituency.

“What surprises us is that when the EC desires 100% polling why should the commission do anything which deprives a person his right to vote," the court said. “There must be some reasons behind it. It is a very important constitutional right and one should not be deprived of it. What is so significant about three-year rule and why you as a constitutional body are forcing a person to cast vote through post." The commission has agreed to allow defence personnel to get registered as voters in the place of their posting.

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Published: 24 Mar 2014, 07:21 PM IST
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