Maharashtra may propose law for ballot papers in elections | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Maharashtra may propose law for ballot papers in elections

By, Mumbai
Feb 03, 2021 05:48 AM IST

Maharashtra’s Speaker Nana Patole’s direction came purportedly on a request by a Nagpur resident, following which the Speaker held discussions with senior officials.

Maharashtra’s Speaker Nana Patole on Tuesday directed the state government to explore the option of allowing the use of paper ballots in addition to electronic voting machines (EVMs) during state and local body polls, a move that officials and experts could test the limits of electoral procedures that are under a state’s legal control.

The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi partners – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – and the government did not comment on the issue.(HT File Photo)
The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi partners – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – and the government did not comment on the issue.(HT File Photo)

Patole’s direction came purportedly on a request by a Nagpur resident, following which the Speaker held discussions with state legislature secretary Rajendra Bhagwat, chief electoral officer Baldev Singh and secretary in law and judiciary department Bhupendra Gurav, in addition to other senior officials.

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“I have directed the law and judiciary department to prepare draft for an amendment in the existing laws to give the people an alternative of using paper ballots for voting. People have doubts over the EVM and want the old system of ballot to be brought back. Article 328 of the Indian Constitution empowers the state legislature to make provisions with respect to the elections,” Patole told HT.

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The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi partners – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress – and the government did not comment on the issue.

“Public sentiment must be respected. As such I have issued the directives,” Patole added.

State officials dealing with legislative affairs are not sure whether the state has powers to legislate on assembly elections, which are held by Election Commission of India.

Article 328 of the Constitution gives state legislatures the power to make provisions with respect to elections to such legislative bodies as long as these are not under the domain of Parliament.

Officials from the State Election Commission (SEC) said the amendment related to local body elections can be made but not for state assembly elections since it is conducted under the Representation of People Act, 1951 which is a central law.

“We conduct local bodies’ election under four different laws, each for municipal corporations, zilla parishads, village (gram) panchayat etc. and all the above laws have a provision for conducting elections through EVM. Theoretically, they can be amended for use of paper ballots but for this, the state will have to consult the SEC and the commission will have to make the request officially,” said a senior official from the SEC, requesting anonymity.

Another official, who asked not to be named, said giving the option of EVM as well as ballot paper to the voters will not be feasible practically.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

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