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Despite SC order, soldiers in city won’t be able to vote

Last date for registration for Lok Sabha elections was March 15

Pune | Published: March 26, 2014 2:07:03 am

The Supreme Court may have passed an interim order allowing military personnel to register as general voters at the place of posting, but those stationed in Pune have missed the bus. They won’t be able to register as general voters for the Pune Lok Sabha constituency as the last date was March 15. Now, they will have to register as general voters only for the Assembly polls, which are scheduled to take place in October.

According to an election official, “The service personnel will have to register as general voters only for the Assembly polls. They will not be able to vote in the general elections, given that the last date for registration was March 15.”

The Supreme Court had on Monday, in response to a PIL filed by city-based advocate Neela Gokhale, passed an interim order that military personnel can register as general voters in the constituency of their posting.

Those posted in Pune will thus have to resort to the conventional method of voting by using a postal ballot, by means of which they will be able to vote for a candidate in their home constituency. As for the military personnel posted at various stations across the country, but with Pune as their home town or permanent address of residence, the Election Commission (EC) has made arrangements for the postal ballots.

Avinash Shinde, Deputy Collector and Nodal Officer for the postal ballots, said: “There are 2,226 service personnel registered as service voters for Pune constituency. This also includes immediate families of military personnel who belong to Pune, but are posted elsewhere. The ballots are in place and we will be printing them within 24 hours of March 29 — the last date for withdrawal of candidature. The ballots will then be posted and these service voters will have to resend the ballots with their votes cast before 8 am on May 16, the counting day.”

A query sent to Sanjay Arvikar, PRO, Ministry of Defence, regarding the initiatives by HQ, Southern Command, to ensure participation by military personnel posted in Pune military station was forwarded to HQ, SC. Reply for the same is awaited.

Gokhale said, “The SC order overrules the circular by the EC, which made it mandatory that armed forces personnel can register as general voters in a particular constituency only if they were posted there for three years or more.”

The order has come as a relief for around 11 lakh Army personnel and their families, besides the personnel of Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. “The court has also directed the EC to issue enough postal ballots to ensure participation by military personnel who have already got registered.”

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