Detainees have right to vote: ECI

SRINAGAR: People under preventive detention in Jammu and Kashmir have the right to vote by post.
This has been stated by the Election Commission of India (ECI) in a letter to the Chief Secretary of J&K government. “You are aware that the Commission has announced, on 25th October 2014, the programme of General Elections to the State Legislative Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir…in this connection, your attention is invited to the following provisions of law relating to voting rights of electors subjected to preventive detention,” the letter dated November 13, said.
Referring to the existing voting provision of the J&K constitution, it said, Proviso to sub-Section (d) of Section 70 of the Jammu & Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957 confers voting rights on the electors subjected to preventive detention.
“As per Rule 1 of the J&K Conduct of Elections Rules. 1965, the electors under preventive detention are entitled to cast their Votes by post,” the ECI letter said.
It further said that Rule 21(1) of the J&K Conduct of Elections Rules, 1965, provides that the appropriate government shall intimate to the Returning Officers, the names of the electors, if any, subjected to preventive detention together with their address, electoral roll numbers and places of detention, within fifteen days of calling an election.
“This will enable the Returning Officers to send postal ballot papers to such electors to facilitate, them to exercise their franchise at the election,” it said.
The letter dispatched by Principal Secretary, ECI, also said it is requested that instructions may kindly be issued to the concerned authorities to ensure that provisions of Rule 21(1) of the J&K Conduct of Election Rules, 1965, mentioned above, are strictly complied with at the current general election and there is no ground for grievance on account of non compliance of the provisions of the said rule.
In case, it said, the concerned authority under whom any electoral is under preventive detention is not aware of the address of the returning officer of the concerned parliamentary or assembly constituency then he may send the details to the chief electoral officer of the state concerned.
This year during the Autumn Session of State Legislative Assembly, state government had admitted that at least 2364 people have been lodged in various jails across the state.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said that as on July 31, 2014 the total number of prisoners is 2364 out of which convicts are 354, 1934 are under trials prisoners and under Public Safety Act (PSA), 51 are foreigners and 25 belong to J&K.
The five-phase elections in Jammu and Kashmir are scheduled to start from November 25.