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Secrecy of ballot

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Secrecy of ballot

Why in News?

Supreme Court has delivered its judgment on Secrecy of Ballot.

  • The judgment came on an appeal against the Allahabad High Court decision setting aside the voting of a no-confidence motion in a zila panchayat in Uttar Pradesh in 2018.
  • The High Court had found that some of the panchayat members had violated the rule of secrecy of ballot. It relied on CCTV footage to conclude that they had either displayed the ballot papers or by their conduct revealed the manner in which they had voted.

What has the Supreme Court said on Secrecy of Ballot?

  • Secrecy of ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections. The choice of a voter should be free and the secret ballot system in a democracy ensures it.
  • It is the policy of law to protect the right of voters to secrecy of the ballot.
  • Even a remote or distinct possibility that a voter can be forced to disclose for whom she has voted would act as a positive constraint and a check on the freedom to exercise of franchise.
  • The principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy.
  • However, a voter can also voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure. No one can prevent a voter from doing. Nor can a complaint be entertained from any, including the person who wants to keep the voter’s mouth sealed as to why she disclosed for whom she voted.

What the RPA says?

Section 94 of the Representation of People Act upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.

What next?

The apex court ordered a re-vote of the motion within the next two months. It ordered the Allahabad District Judge or his nominee to act as the presiding officer. The vote should be conducted by the secret ballot system.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Section 94 of RPA?
  2. What is a writ petition?
  3. What is first past the post system?
  4. Constitutional provisions related to panchayat elections in India.
  5. Appeals against High Court judgments.

Mains Link:

What is Secrecy of Ballot? Why Supreme Court has termed it as the cornerstone of free and fair elections? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.