Indian Armed Forces may not be able to cast votes this year. Here’s why

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First Published 10, Jan 2019, 7:16 PM IST
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Indian Armed Forces may not be able to cast votes this year Here is why
Highlights

Supreme Court lawyer Neela Gokhale had filed the petition requesting the court to give directions to the Union government to create a mechanism which would help all security personnel to vote. However, the government is yet to take proper action

New Delhi: It is a lesser known fact that the votes of Indian soldiers deployed at the borders or at places of difficult terrain, hardly count. There are retired Indian Army officers who haven’t cast their vote even once during the tenure of their services.

It seems that even this time the security personnel would not be able to exercise their franchise as the Union government is yet to take the required action.

Interestingly, a petition was filed in 2013, but nothing much happened. It still remains pending.

Supreme Court lawyer Neela Gokhale had filed the petition requesting the court to give directions to the Union government to create a mechanism which would help all security personnel to vote. However, the government is yet to take proper action.

"Currently, there exists a postal ballot system, which is so slow that votes fail to reach on time to centres for counting and the whole purpose of casting votes gets defeated," Gokhale said.

In her 2013 petition, Gokhale had said, "The Indian Army is present in glaciated heights of Siachen, jungles of Northeast as well as at the north and western borders. Thus, a lot of security forces personnel, who constitute a vast population of the country, along with their spouses and eligible children are precluded and deprived from exercising their adult franchise. This is on account of the inefficient and inadequate mechanism to
facilitate them from casting their vote in the general elections of the country."  
 
In the recent Rajasthan election, an Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) was introduced, but it had a major flaw. This system enables a one-way online system which doesn’t help the current situation. 

"The petition addresses two important issues in respect of facilitating the members of the Armed Forces to exercise their right of franchise. The first issue is in respect of the registration of a member of the Armed Forces and his family members who are eligible to vote, to be included in the electoral roll. The second issue is in respect of the mechanism to actually cast the vote in the constituency where the particular member is registered." Gokhale said in her petition.

The matter is pending in the Supreme court and recently, the government has filed its reply in the matter.

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