The Delhi state election commission has sought dismissal of a plea for removal of candidates’ party symbols from electronic voting machines (EVM) in upcoming civic polls here. “(Any order on) the petition would directly affect all the national and state political parties. Since all the national and state political parties have not been impleaded in the present petition, it is liable to be dismissed on this ground alone,” the poll panel told a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal. It said the petitioner has not impleaded the Election Commission of India (ECI) as a party in the plea. “It (the state election commission) has been following the steps taken by the ECI…,” the poll panel said. It, however, informed the court that the decision to include photographs of contesting candidates on the EVMs has already been taken and will be implemented in future polls.
The state election commission was responding to a plea by law student Sanjana Gahlot, who in her petition has said that there is no provision in Part IX-A of the Constitution of India or the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Act for the political parties or their election symbols to be mentioned on the EVMs. “The presence of a party symbol on the EVM is arbitrary, illegal, unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The respondents, in particular the state election commission (SEC), have failed to conduct free and fair elections (by-elections in 2016 for filling up casual vacancies in posts of councillors),” the petitioner’s counsel submitted. “The SEC is duty-bound to conduct free and fair elections and this duty is of public nature,” the plea said, adding that the state poll panel “simply copied the same format and design as was used by the Election Commission of India for elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies”.
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The petitioner said that the MCD Act nowhere has reference to a recognised political party or to allocation of symbol for contesting an election. The Act vests the conduct of the elections absolutely in the SEC, the plea added.