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"What's their hesitation?" Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal urges Election Commission to publish poll-related data

New Delhi: Following the Election Commission of India opposition to a plea for public disclosure of Form 17C, senior advocate and Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Thursday questioned the hesitation of the apex poll body in releasing vote-related data on its website.
"The ECI has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating it has no legal mandate to upload Form 17 which is a record of votes polled at a polling station. Form 17 is signed by Presiding Officer and given to Polling Agent at the end of polling. The information is also directly sent to ECI. Now why does the ECI not put that data on website? What is their hesitation or problem?" Sibal said while addressing a press conference.
"What can happen in the process is the number of votes that are counted would in fact be more than the number of votes that are polled. We don't know what's correct? But what is the hesitation of the ECI to put that data on record, on its website. Nobody can morph it," he added.
Sibal's statement comes after the ECI on Wednesday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying disclosure of voter turnout data based on Form 17C (records of votes polled in each polling station) will cause confusion among voters as it will also include postal ballot counts.
The ECI in an affidavit filed before the top court contended that there is no legal right that can be claimed towards publishing final authenticated data of voter turnout in all polling stations.
It said uploading of Form 17C on the website can lead to mischief and that there are possibilities of images being morphed, which can create "widespread discomfort and mistrust".
"In any electoral contest, the margin of victory may be very close. In such cases, disclosure of Form 17C in public domain may cause confusion in the minds of the voters with regard to the total votes polled as the latter figure would include the number of votes polled as per Form 17C as well as the votes received through postal ballots. However, such difference may not be easily understood by the voters and may be used by persons with motivated interests to cast aspersion on the whole electoral process... cause chaos in the election machinery which is already in motion," the affidavit stated.

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