Petition in SC seeking direction to curb voting under influence of alcohol

New Delhi: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by Tamil Nadu Telugu Yuva Sakthi (TNTYS), seeking a direction from the apex court for the installation of breath analyser and other similar devices at polling booths to prevent voters from voting under the influence of alcohol. The petition has been admitted by the apex court and is likely to come up for hearing within a week.

The petition, filed by TNTYS president K Jagadeeswar Reddy under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution before the court, states that the distribution of alcohol as a bribe to manipulate voters is a phenomenon that has been widely reported upon. Alcohol and other intoxicating substances are distributed at a large scale among voters during election time as a means to garner their favour and vote, says the petition.

Despite manifold efforts to curb this practice, liquor politics continues to be a rampant phenomenon that threatens the very tenets of free and fair elections, the petition filed by Reddy’s lawyer Samykya Mukku states.

The copy of petition accessed by ANI states that ‘there is a critical lack of safeguards to monitor and curb the practice at the receiving end. Polling booths and polling officers are logistically unequipped to detect intoxicated persons and are legally and statutorily unequipped to prevent intoxicated voters from violating the sanctity of the electoral process.’

The petition in which all States and Union Territories have been made parties, in addition to the Election Commission of India (ECI), has also requested the top court to frame guidelines regarding voters who attempt to cast their votes in a state of intoxication and direct the ECI to equip all polling booths with the devices necessary for identification of intoxicated persons, including breath analyzers.

“The existing regime contains a lacuna that does not account for the capacity of the voter to cast the vote. It is imperative that this lacuna is addressed by way of guidelines that govern the treatment of intoxicated persons in the context of voting,” the petition filed by Reddy further adds.