Delhi HC asks SEC to decide whether symbols be removed from ballot papers, EVMs

The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to decide whether party symbols can be removed from ballot papers and EVMs in the municipal polls in the national capital. The court asked the SEC to deal with the issue while disposing of a PIL seeking removal of election symbol from the ballot paper, including the unit of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), in the next municipal elections. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Brijesh Sethi asked the SEC to take a decision on the issue before the next municipal elections, which are likely to be held in 2022. Let the state election commission deal with the issue before the next elections, the court said. The petitioner, a woman, had contested in the last MCD polls in 2017 and had lost. The petitioner, Alka Gahlot, had contended that the SEC puts the reserved symbol on the ballot paper in blatant violation of the provisions of the Constitution and the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act as there is no reference to political parties in the Part IX and IX-A of the Constitution and the Act. Gahlot had said she wants to contest the election again in 2022 and there is a fear of losing as she would be allotted a new election symbol just 15 days before the polling day whereas some other candidates would contest elections on reserved symbol. The plea had said that in the 2017 MCD elections, photographs of contesting candidates were put on the balloting unit of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). In the presence of photograph of the contesting candidates on the ballot paper, there is no need of any other election symbol. Even illiterate voters can identify their candidate by seeing the photograph of candidates and cast his vote in secrecy, it had said. The plea had alleged that the presence of reserved symbols for candidates of recognised political creates bias and violates Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution and restricts the entry of individuals in the corporation. The authorities have failed to hold free and fair elections as it is absolutely rigged by the presence of reserved election symbol of recognised political parties and there placing on ballot papers, it had claimed.