Review of Section Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of Election Rules
The Election Commission of India (ECI) may revisit Section Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961.
What does Rule 49 MA Prescribe?
- If a voter alleges that the paper slip generated by the VVPAT has shown the name or symbol of a candidate other than the one to which the vote was cast, the presiding officer shall obtain a written declaration from the elector as to the allegation, after warning the elector about the consequence of making a false declaration.
- The presiding officer will then permit the elector to record a test vote in the voting machine and observe the paper slip generated by the VVPAT.
- If the allegation was found to be true, the presiding officer shall report the facts immediately to the returning officer and stop the further recording of votes in that voting machine.
- If the allegation is found to be false, then the voter can be prosecuted under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code for furnishing false information.
- The prosecution can result in a jail term of six months or a fine of Rs 1,000 or both.
A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court calling Section Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of Election Rules as unconstitutional since it infringes upon a citizen s right to freedom of expression which is a fundamental right of free expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and deters people from coming forth to complain. The Supreme Court has sought the response of the ECI on the plea.
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