Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Devan Ramachandran, J., allowed a writ petition for recognizing photo identity cards issued by the bar councils as a valid identity proof.

The petitioner, a practicing Advocate on the Rolls of the Bar Council of Kerala had remonstratively accused the respondent of having acted unfairly as it refused to recognize and accept the photo identity cards issued by the Bar Council of Kerala as also that of the other States, as a valid proof of identity to undertake journey on trains in reserved seats.

The grievance impelled by the petitioner was that even though several categories of identity cards were accepted by the respondent, the photo identity cards issued by the various Bar Councils in India were expressly excluded even though the said identity cards were issued by the various Bar Councils under the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961.

The contentions of the respondent were that firstly adequate numbers of ID proofs had already been prescribed and secondly there was no uniformity in the formats of cards issued by various Bar Councils by virtue of it being a non-centralized body which consequently brought into question its veracity.

Consequently the respondent agreed to the fact that they have had harboured a wrong impression as to the statutoriness of the Bar Councils as the correct position was now clear to them hence they had no objection in accepting the identity cards, with a condition that the respective Bar Councils were obligated to answer any query that could have arisen with respect to individual identity cards in order to check any legitimate suspicion as to its authenticity.

The Court concluded by saying that being statutory bodies, it enjoins them to ensure the rectitude of the cards issued by them as and when required and directed the respondent to notify the stated identity cards as a valid proof of identity for train journey within two months from the date of judgment.[T.S. Shyam Prasanth v. The Secretary, Railways, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 3235, order dated 08-08-2018]