SRINAGAR: The Supreme Court has backed the government of India’s decision to not list the army personnel as general voters in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast states, Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday.
The court held that the move “may result in change of demographic character” of the area affecting the local populace and electoral profile, the report said.
Army personnel posted at forward and disturbed areas are not given voting enrolment facilities at their place of posting. However, those posted at peace stations can avail these facilities, following a Supreme Court order in 2014, the report said.
“There are some areas where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is in force. There is a simmering tension between the forces and the local population, and therefore giving them such a facility could lead to exacerbating tension,” the report said, quoting government of India.
It also said facilitating army personnel as general voters will involve “revealing sensitive information” on numerical strength and exact location of defence forces concentration. This may have “adverse security implications,” the report added.
A bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Prafulla C Pant, however, directed the centre to consult the Election Commission and other stake holders to plan ways to ease the process of exercising the right to adult suffrage of the personnel and their families, the report said.
Noting right to vote was of “paramount importance”, the bench asked the Centre to explore possibilities of providing electronic voting facility to personnel in far-flung areas. It also asked the Centre to review the law that bars personnel posted in peace stations to be registered as general voters at the place of posting before three years.
The bench was hearing a petition by an army officer’s wife Neela Gokhale seeking directives on voting rights.