NEW DELHI, March 8 - The Supreme Court today asked the Secretary of the Election Commission of India to appear before it on March 12.
The Supreme Court�s direction came in response to a PIL by two Assam-based residents, Gopal Seth and Susanta Sen, alleging that several categories of persons in Assam have been deprived of voting rights ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The apex court sought the personal appearance of the Secretary as despite the notice being issued in February, the Election Commission went unrepresented. The matter came up before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna.
While Seth is a resident of North 24 Parganas in West Bengal, Sen claims to be a resident of Sivasagar district. Both reside in Sivasagar district at the moment. Their names have been deleted from the draft NRC. Both used to be voters under the Sivasagar Assembly constituency in previous elections.
The petitions have claimed that their names have been dropped from the voters list on the ground that they do not find mention in the draft NRC.
The petitioners have said that deletion of their names is erroneous as they have already filed their objections with the State coordinator of the NRC who is finalising the list. They argue that deletion of their names from the voters list for Sivasagar district on the basis of the NRC amounted to violation of their constitutional right to vote.
The PIL alleged that there were several categories of persons whose names were deleted from the voters list. They alleged that there were some whose names appeared in the draft NRC published on July 30, 2018, but their names were deleted from the voters list. The petition claimed these people had voted in the last Lok Sabha election held in 2014.
The petitioners also submitted that there were people whose names were not included in the complete draft NRC, but they subsequently filed claims for inclusion of their names in it. They had voted in the earlier Lok Sabha elections and were waiting for inclusion of their names.
The third category of people were those who have been declared as foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal as well as by the Gauhati High Court, but the court�s order was stayed by the Supreme Court.
The petitioner said the fourth category of people comprised those who had already been declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal and such declarations were set aside by the apex court.
However, their names have been deleted from the voters list pursuant to the order of the Foreigners Tribunal, the petition said.
The petition said the fifth category of persons are those whose names have not been included in the draft NRC, but other members of their families, including parents, are included in the NRC and they have filed their claims for inclusion of their names.
�The above mentioned five categories of people whose names have not been included in the voters list are going to be deprived of their constitutional as well as statutory rights to vote in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election,� the petition said.