WHAT IS THE CASE?
- In Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, a ‘NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION’ was moved on 1st October 2018, against Ms. Rekha Singh, Panchayat Adhyaksh.
- In a meeting of Zila Panchayat summoned by the District Judge of Allahabad, 48 members out of 51 members voted against her. The Presiding Officer passed the motion with majority.
- The Panchayat Adhyaksha, Rekha Singh filled a case in High Court contending that the members violated the Rule of Secrecy of Ballots.
OBSERVATION OF HIGH COURT?
- High Court set aside the minutes of meeting of Zila Panchayat approving the majority of No Confidence Motion saying that the members have violated the Rule of Secrecy of Ballot.
- High Court observed that the members have revealed their choice by displaying the ballot papers or by their conduct, which can be seen in the CCTV footage of the court.
- High Court referred to Section 28(8) of the Uttar Pradesh Kshetra and Zila Panchayat Adhiniyam ,1961which states that the voting should be done by prescribed manner given in the Act.
- Court also referred to Rule 4 and Sub-Rule (2) of Rule 7 of the Uttar Pradesh (Zila Panchayats) (Voting on Motions of Non-Confidence) Rules 1966. According to the rules, it is the duty of Presiding Officer to maintain the secrecy of the ballot and to see that no member should mark or write on their ballot paper which will infringe the secrecy of ballot.
JUDGMENT OF SUPREME COURT?
- The petitioner contended that it is the policy of law to protect the right of voters, to maintain the secrecy of the ballot.This right can be claimed by the voter himself against unwarranted disclosure.
- Supreme Court observed that the principle of secrecy of ballots is an important postulate of constitutional democracy whose aim is the maintenance of free and fair elections, ensuring the purity of elections is the fundamental principles of election law.
- The question before the court was whether waiving of the secrecy of the voting is permissible in such circumstances or not?
- Supreme Court allowed the appeal by saying that 95% of the members present in the meeting voted against the respondent (Rekha Singh). The law aims to protect the members who are voting from influences of others but according to Section 94 of The Representation of People Act, 1951, a voter has the privilege that no one can compel him/her to disclose their choice without their own free will. But if he/she has the privilege not to disclose, he/she also has the choice to waive that privilege.