What is Rule 49MA in context of Indian election system? Elaborate the arguments against the rule.

Published: June 6, 2019

Rule 49A stands for the prosecution of a voter for making a false complaint of malfunction of an electronic voting machine or a voter verifiable paper audit trail machine.
Features of the ruling:

  • A voter who claims that the EVM or the VVPAT machine did not record his or her vote correctly is allowed to cast a test vote
  • If the voter fails to prove the mismatch, poll officials can initiate action under Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code for giving a false submission
  • The person shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both
  • If there is no penal provision, there may be a flood of false claims. This provision should be�used as an exception and very rarely
  • The intention of the provision was to�discourage those who want to disrupt the electoral process by making such complaints

Arguments Against the rule:

  • The rule is a breach of citizen�s right to freedom of expression under the Constitution
  • It is unfair to punish a person for the arbitrary deviant behaviour of machines used in election process
  • It could deter an elector from coming forth and making any complaint which is essential
  • The elector cannot be convicted by the evidence of second vote for the alleged incorrect reporting of the discrepancy in the first vote cast
  • The provision was unconstitutional as it criminalized�reporting of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPAT machines

The election process is the backbone of Indian democracy. There is an urgent need to tackle such issue to improve the election process making it fair and transparent.
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