Defence personnel can vote through electronic ballots
The Supreme Court on Thursday approved the Election Commission’s proposal to provide electronic ballots or the internet-based voting facility to armed forces personnel who opt to vote through postal ballots.
A bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) that had asked for an effective mechanism to ensure implementation of voting rights for soldiers of the armed forces after recording the poll panel’s decision. The EC has also offered to allow the personnel doing peacetime duties to register themselves as general voters and exercise their franchise in the constituency where they are posted. This facility shall not be available to those in field areas. The PIL filed by advocate Neela Gokhale had highlighted the inability of about 1.3 lakh personnel of the three services — army, navy and the air force — to participate in the electoral process by virtue of being posted in remote and inaccessible areas of the country.
Gokhale said in her petition that the army has so far followed postal ballot process, which deprived them and their adult family members from casting their votes in the general elections. Pointing out deficiencies in the rules under the Representation of Peoples Act 1951, the PIL said it had failed to ensure the participation of soldiers in polls.