The Bombay High Court, on Friday, directed the Election Commission of India to remove the ration card from the list of documents accepted as proof of identity for voters.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Shirish Gharat, a Shiv Sena worker from Navi Mumbai seeking a CBI investigation into the alleged printing of a large number of bogus ration cards that were used during the last Assembly elections.
Gharat sought the deletion of ration cards from the list of documents accepted as proof of identity for voters, claiming a large number of bogus ration cards had been printed for this purpose.
Mandar Goswami, counsel for the Centre, argued that another division bench of the HC had already dismissed a PIL that sought the same thing. A division bench comprising Justice P B Majmudar and Justice Rajesh Ketkar, however, agreed with the petitioner’s contention and directed the ECI to reconsider the incorporation of ration cards in the identity proof list.
On April 11, 2009, the ECI had allowed the use of ration cards issued on or before February 28, 2009, as a valid document to establish the identity of voters for both the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly elections.
The judges granted four more weeks to the state CID to submit a progress report on the investigation into Gharat’s complaint, after Public Prosecutor Dinesh Adsule sought more time saying the investigating officer got the papers only on January 1, 2010.
On Gharat’s complaint, Navi Mumbai police arrested seven people for the printing of more than 5,000 bogus ration cards. The HC, however, found that the probe was not going anywhere, and the main culprits had been allowed to walk free. This is why, last month, the court handed over the probe to the state CID.
Gharat has alleged that the bogus ration cards were printed at the behest of a local Nationalist Congress Party leader, and were meant to help the election of State Excise Minister Ganesh Naik.