Electoral Reforms In India

No Legal Mandate to share Voter Turnout Data: ECI to Supreme Court


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 329(b), Forms 17A and 17C

Why in the News?

The Election Commission of India (ECI) told the Supreme Court that there is no legal mandate to provide Form 17C (account of votes recorded) to any other person other than the candidate or his agent.

What does Article 329(b) say?

  • It specifically bars courts from intervening in any disputes related to the electoral process during the active phase of an election—from its notification to the final declaration of results.
  • This is to prevent any potential delays or disruptions caused by litigation during the election.

About Forms 17A and 17C  

As per the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, there are two forms that have data on the number of electors and voters — Forms 17A and 17C.

  1. Form 17A: This document, compiled by the Returning Officer for each constituency, lists contesting candidates and registers voter information, including names and symbols.
  2. Form 17C: Form 17C contains the account of votes recorded at each polling station during the election. It is prepared by the Presiding Officer of the polling station after the conclusion of polling. It includes:
  • EVM identification numbers.
  • Total number of electors and voters at the polling station.
  • Number of voters who did not record their votes after signing the register.
  • Number of voters not allowed to vote.
  • Total number of votes recorded per EVM.
  • Part-II of Form 17C: It carries counting results entered on counting day. This form is crucial for any legal challenges to the election results and for candidates to verify results on counting day.

Why is there a Demand to Make Form 17C Data Public?

  • Activists advocate for greater transparency in election processes.
  • The high number of polling stations makes it hard for candidates to compile all data.
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is not legally required to publish aggregate voter turnout data.
  • The ECI ensures that all statutory requirements, including providing Form 17C to candidates, are met.
  • Discrepancies noted in Form 17C can be contested to maintain election integrity.

Back2Basics: Conduct of Election Rules, 1961

  • The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, commonly referred to as the 1961 Rules, outline the procedural framework governing various aspects of the electoral process in India.
  • These rules were formulated under the authority of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • It serves as the foundational legislation for conducting elections in the country.
    • Activities covered: Preparation of electoral rolls, the nomination of candidates, the conduct of polling, counting of votes, and the declaration of results.
  • Regulatory Function: The 1961 Rules incorporate provisions for addressing electoral malpractices, disputes, and grievances, thereby safeguarding the sanctity of elections.



[2017] For election to the Lok Sabha, a nomination paper can be filed by

(a) Anyone residing in India.

(b) A resident of the constituency from which the election is to be contested.

(c) Any citizen of India whose name appears in the electoral roll of a constituency.

(d) Any citizen of India.

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