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HC wants video-monitoring of Punjab civic polls
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
Focusing on free and fair elections to civic bodies in Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today permitted videography in the polling booths. Estimates suggest the High Court nod will go a long way in ensuring fair polling in no less than 90 per cent of the booths.

The directions, on a petition filed in public interest, come as an embarrassment to the state of Punjab, which kept panning away from the idea of videography. The state, in fact, filed an affidavit before the Punjab and Haryana High Court this morning opposing the videography plea in writing.

Its attempts, however, did not click with the Bench and rather left it apprehensive and guarded. Mincing no words, the Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Alok Singh verbally questioned the state on its apprehensions in getting the booths videographed before observing that its anxiety was giving rise to the suspicion of something being hanky-panky.

Approximately 2,900 polling booths have been set up across the state for the municipal polls, which include in their purview corporations, councils and nagar panchayats. In all, 18 lakh voters have enrolled themselves for the polls. The High Court directions are applicable to both corporation and non-corporation bodies.

As the petition by Krishan Kumar Sharma and two other petitioners came up for resumed hearing before the Bench this morning, the state made clear its stand that each and every case had to be dealt with separately and permission for videography was required to be taken from the deputy commissioner-cum-district election officer concerned. The state added that the petitioners and others could apply to the election officer for permission to capture the proceedings on camera.

Opposing the contentions, senior advocate-cum-counsel for the petitioner Mohan Lal Saggar asserted that permission was not required to be taken as the videos would be made by the candidates at their own cost.

He added that 90 per cent polling would be fair, once the cameras are fixed at the polling booths. Agreeing with his contentions, the Bench overlooked the objections raised by the state to give its nod to videography.

Sharma and other petitioners, among other things, are seeking directions to the state of Punjab and others to ensure elections in a “just, fair and peaceful manner”, where the voters are neither intimidated nor coerced.





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