Voters must be informed before deletion of their names from voters’ list

Central Information Commission (CIC): “The voter has a right to know, first that his name was deleted
(from the voters’ list), then the reasons for decision to delete his name from
the voters’ list,” observed CIC while directing Chief Election Officer (CEO) to
pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 to a voter who was prevented from casting his
vote, as his name was deleted from the voters’ list without informing him..The
order of the Commission came upon an appeal filed by a person who sought
information regarding exclusion of his name in the voters’ list. He wanted to
know the procedure by which the name can be excluded and also that whether a
person can be excluded from the voters’ list even when he has resided in the
same address previously when he voted. As no information was provided to him by
the Chief Election Officer, he approached the Commission. After perusing various
provisions of Constitution of India and Representation of Peoples Act, 1951,
Commission observed that CEO is entrusted with duty to prepare and publish a
list of deletions proposed, notice about inquiry and to give reasonable
opportunity to defend, before ordering deletion. While commenting upon the
arbitrary action of CEO in the matter, CIC noted, “Such an arbitrary deletion
and denial of information even after deletion, followed by non-response to RTI
request for reasons for that deletion would certainly amount to denial of a
very significant Constitutional & statutory right to vote and right to
information under RTI Act.” The Commission directed CPIO of the Public Authory
(Chief Election Officer) to show cause why penalty should not be imposed for not
furnishing the information to the appellant about deletion of his name from the
voter list and reasons for the deletion thereto; and not informing the
appellant if any inquiry was conducted into the matter after such deletion;
about the action proposed to be taken against officer responsible for deleting
his name and when his name and right to vote will be restored. Apart from
awarding compensation to the appellant, CIC also directed CPIO of Chief
Election Officer to prepare a set of guidelines that needs to be followed
before deleting names from the voters’ list and inform the affected voters of
the proposed deletion giving opportunity to present their case. (Sumit v. Chief
Election Officer, 2015 SCC OnLine CIC 2909, decided on 29.07.2015)

Source: Legal news India