From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : RP Act
Mains level : 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, the Supreme Court has held in judgment.
- 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.
Practice question for mains:
Q. Discuss how Secrecy of Ballot is the cornerstone of free and fair elections in India.
What is the Secret Ballot?
- The secret ballot, also known as Australian ballot, is a voting method in which a voter’s choices in an election or a referendum are anonymous.
- It aims for forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote-buying.
- The system is one means of achieving the goal of political privacy.
What did the Supreme Court rule?
- The principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy, the court said.
- Justice Khanna, who wrote the judgment, referred to Section 94 of the Representation of People Act, which upholds the privilege of the voter to maintain confidentiality about her choice of vote.
- It is the policy of the law to protect the right of voters to the 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 the franchise.
Voter’s discretion is allowed
- A voter can also voluntarily waive the privilege of non-disclosure.
- The privilege ends when the voter decides to waive the privilege and instead volunteers to disclose as to whom she had voted.
- 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 said the court.