DMK plea to Madras HC over EC’s new class of voters

It urges court to declare Sec. 60 (c) of RPA unconstitutional

The DMK on Monday urged the Madras High Court to declare as unconstitutional Section 60 (c) of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, which empowers the Election Commission of India (ECI) to notify a new class of voters who can choose to cast their votes through postal ballot instead of visiting the polling stations.

Arguing before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, senior counsel P. Wilson insisted that not only Section 60 (c) but also the consequent statutory rules framed under it and the guidelines issued by the ECI for the creation of a new class called ‘absentee voters’ should be declared illegal.

He said a large chunk of voters, such as those above 80 years of age, the physically challenged, those suffering from COVID-19 and those engaged in essential services, had been made eligible to get included in the ‘absentee voters’ list and choose to cast their votes through postal ballot. The list was not being provided to the political parties in advance, he complained.

“Section 60(c) leads to delegation of uncanalised legislative function on the executive. This is an excessive delegation. It is an unguided and unlimited power conferred upon the Election Commission. The Central government has also approved the classification of absentee voters without holding any consultations with the Commission as required under the law,” he contended.

Since counsel could not complete his arguments on Monday, the Bench adjourned the case to March 1 for hearing him as well as senior counsel G. Rajagopalan, representing the ECI, and Additional Solicitor General R. Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the Centre. Earlier, Mr. Rajagopalan brought it to the notice of the court that after the present case, DMK principal secretary K.N. Nehru, too, had filed another case.

In his writ petition, Mr. Nehru had sought a direction to the ECI to share with his party a list of the absentee voters. Therefore, the party must decide which case it wanted to conduct though the ECI was prepared to contest both, the senior counsel said.

Immediately, senior counsel R. Viduthalai, assisted by S. Manuraj, said the court could take up the writ petition challenging Section 60(c) first since it was a for a larger relief and then hear his client Mr. Nehru’s petition.

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