Kerala High Court: Devan Ramachandran, J. allowed the writ petition to direct the Returning Officer (RO) to act in terms of the Circular issued by the State Police Chief, Kerala.
The petitioner filed the following writ petition because they apprehended disturbances in law and order situation during polling. In order to curb cases of large scale bogus voting, the petitioner pleaded the Court to direct the RO to seek police reinforcement and also videography the entire process, so that the process of election can be conducted in a fair and transparent manner. The petitioner also pleaded that the Court must direct the RO to prevent bogus voting by ensuring that the ballot paper is issued to the voters only on production of the identity cards and such other documents of proof as are mentioned in Rule 35(A)(6)(n)(ix) of the Kerala Cooperative Societies Rules (the KCS Rules).
The respondents contended that it was not necessary for the petitioner to have approached the Court because the RO would have followed the mandate as provided under the Circular. According to them, if there were to be any disturbances during voting, all necessary police reinforcements will be called for. If the petitioner is willing to pay, the Returning Officer will make arrangements for videography of the entire voting process, without in any manner compromising its secrecy. On the apprehension of the petitioner regarding bogus voting, the respondents submitted that all necessary steps will be taken by the RO. The petitioner even agreed to the terms set forth by the respondents.
The High Court too instructed the RO to comply with the Circular implicitly and to ensure that there are no cases of bogus voting by following the mandatory requirements under the KCS Act and Rules, including by insisting on the relevant identity proof. The RO was also asked to make immediate arrangements for videography of the entire electoral process, without compromising its secrecy in any manner. Voting must be completed in a free and fair manner by the said officer without any fault. Further the RO was asked to ensure that ballot papers are issued only as per Rule 35(A)(6)(n)(ix) of the KCS Rules and on the strength of the identity cards and other documents mentioned therein so that the allegation of bogus voting can be fully, if not substantially, allayed.[Vakathanam Service Co-Operative Bank v. Inspector of Police, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2436, decided on 29-07-2019]