Consider Alternative of Online Voting: Uttarakhand HC to Poll Panel

The HC is hearing a plea seeking directions for online poll campaigning or a postponement of the assembly elections.

The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday directed the Election Commission to consider the alternative of "virtual voting" in future in light of the rising cases of COVID19. The high court's suggestion came on a plea that sought the postponement of the upcoming state assembly elections slated for next month in February.

The high court's suggestion is significant since there are no laws that provide for online voting.

The high court also directed the poll panel to issue appropriate directions to political parties to conduct online campaigns and prohibit "large public rallies".

"Let the Election Commission of India consider issuing appropriate directions prohibiting large public rallies for the ensuing the election for the Uttarakhand State Legislative Assembly and to take a decision...," the high court order read.

The poll panel has been directed to file an affidavit on this issue by January 12.

The high court on December 29, 2021 had issued notice on a plea filed through advocate Shiv Bhatt seeking online poll rallies and in the alternative a delay in the upcoming elections on account of the rising cases of COVID and the Omicron variant in particular.

Referring to poll campaigns led by the Aam Aadmi Party, Congress, and the BJP the plea said that no social distancing was being followed nor did people wear masks.

"That in view of the new 'VOC (variant of concern) Omicorn' is spreading approximately 318% faster than the earlier Original segments of virus and considering the low level of medical facilities and medical professionals in the state, it is imperative that either the Assembly Elections be postponed or the political parties be directed to do the election rallies/meeting through web/online, the plea said.

Even as the high court has asked the poll panel to consider online voting, the division bench led by Acting Chief Justice SK Mishra directed the state's Chief Standing Counsel to prepare a report submitted by the District Coordinate Committee and apprise the Court of the development in the control of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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