May 13, 2019

Plea to Advance Election Timing During Ramzan Rejected By Supreme Court Vacation Bench


A Supreme Court vacation bench dismissed a recent petition challenging an Election Commission order refusing to advance the time of voting during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan.

A petition filed on April 29 had challenged the Election Commission's order which refused to advance voting time during Ramzan to 5 am, 5:30 am or even 6 am, instead of 7 am, due to the unprecedented heat wave.

However, the Supreme Court took the position that it cannot interfere with poll timings since it is the Election Commission’s prerogative and logistical issues too would be involved.

The development came after the Supreme Court asked the Election Commission of India on May 1 to pass the necessary orders in a representation which had sought that voting time be advanced from 7 am to 5 am during the month of Ramzan.

On May 5, the Election Commission rejected the Supreme Court’s request to advance poll timing to 5 am instead of 7 am during Ramzan observing that it was not “feasible to alter existing hours of polling for the 5th, 6th and 7th phases of general elections”.

The petition was filed by a certain Mohammad Nizamuddin Pasha through his counsel Fuzail Ayyub with the sole object of increasing voter participation in the electoral process and to ensure a fair opportunity all communities, particularly the Muslim community, to cast their vote.

The petitioner had cited that on April 30 and May 5, the Indian Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, had issued a temperature warning indicating severe heat wave conditions over the next few days in large parts of India.

His petition stated that during Ramzan, most practicing Muslims wake up for an early morning meal called ‘sehri’ and sleep after the morning ‘Fajr’ prayer, after which they avoid going outdoors in the heat to avoid thirst, dehydration and the possibility of heatstroke.

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