Supreme Court Upholds Transparency in Elections: Ensures Voter Rights and System Integrity  


Case no.: WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 434 OF 2023

Dated on:26th April 2024



The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-governmental organization focused on electoral and political reforms, filed a petition against the Election Commission of India (ECI) and another respondent. The case was centered around the transparency and accountability in the electoral process, particularly regarding the disclosure of information by political candidates and parties.


  • Whether the Election Commission should mandate candidates to disclose their criminal antecedents, assets, liabilities, and educational qualifications.
  • whether the constitutionality and transparency of the electoral bonds scheme, which allows anonymous donations to political parties.


Article 324 of the Constitution of India: This article vests the power of superintendence, direction, and control of elections in India in the Election Commission.

Representation of the People Act, 1951: Sections 33A and 33B: These sections were added following a Supreme Court judgment and mandate candidates to file an affidavit declaring their criminal antecedents, assets, liabilities, and educational qualifications.

Section 29C: This section requires political parties to submit annual reports to the Election Commission disclosing donations above a certain threshold.


The counsel for the petitioners, on 24.04.2024, drew our attention to a Wikipedia article which states that firmware is a software which provides low-level control of computing device hardware etc. It also states that programmable firmware memory can be reprogrammed via a procedure sometimes called flashing. Advocate for greater transparency in the electoral process to ensure that voters are well-informed about the candidates. Argued that non-disclosure of crucial information infringes upon the voters’ right to make an informed choice, a fundamental aspect of a democratic process. Challenged the electoral bonds scheme as it allows anonymous donations, leading to a lack of transparency and potential corruption. During the course of hearing, our attention was drawn to Rule 49MA which permits an elector to raise a complaint regarding the mismatch between the name and symbol of the candidate shown on paper slip generated by the VVPAT and the vote cast on the ballot unit. Such elector is required to make a written declaration to the presiding officer.


The ECI maintained that it had taken steps towards increasing transparency but argued that certain limitations exist within the current legal framework. Defended the electoral bonds scheme as a measure to curb black money in elections, arguing that it provides a cleaner alternative to cash donations.


We could have dismissed the present writ petitions by merely relying upon the past precedents and decisions of this Court which, in our opinion, are clear and lucid, and as repeated challenges based on suspicion and doubt, without any cogent material and data, are execrable and undesirable. However, we would like to put on record the procedure and safeguards adopted by the ECI to ensure free and fair elections and the integrity of the electoral process. For this purpose, we shall refer to and take on record the features of EVMs.14 Lastly, we would give two directions, and take on record suggestion(s) for consideration of the ECI. I also wish to observe that while maintaining a balanced perspective is crucial in evaluating systems or institutions, blindly distrusting any aspect of the system can breed unwarranted scepticism and impede progress. Instead, a critical yet constructive approach, guided by evidence and reason, should be followed to make room for meaningful improvements and to ensure the system’s credibility and effectiveness. Be it the citizens, the judiciary, the elected representatives, or even the electoral machinery, democracy is all about striving to build harmony and trust between all its pillars through open dialogue, transparency in processes, and continuous improvement of the system by active participation in democratic practices. Our approach should be guided by evidence and reason to allow space for meaningful improvements. By nurturing a culture of trust and collaboration, we can strengthen the foundations of our democracy and ensure that the voices and choices of all citizens are valued and respected. With each pillar fortified, our democracy stands robust and resilient. I conclude with the hope and trust that the system in vogue shall not fail the electorate and the mandate of the voting public shall be truly reflected in the votes cast and counted. empowered to adopt a flexible approach in such cases, acknowledging their far-reaching public interest ramifications. The writ petitions and all pending applications, including the applications for intervention, are disposed of in the above terms.

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Judgement Reviewed by – HARIRAGHAVA JP

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The Telangana High Court stated that the Electoral Registration Officer to be approached for changes in Electoral, not the High Court

Title: Mohammed Feroz Khan v. Election Commission of India  

WP.No.28593 of 2023

Decided on: 12/10/2023



The Telangana High Court decided on the writ petition of mandamus directing the respondents to undertake a special revision of electoral rolls to delete/remove the names of bogus shifted, duplicate, and persons, who are already dead, from the electoral roll of Nampally Assembly Constituency. The writ petition was dismissed by the Hon’ble High Court of Telangana. The Electoral Registration Officer has already undertaken the work of revision of the electoral roll and the revised electoral roll was published on 04.10.2023.

Facts of the Case:

Feroz Khan, a politician of the Indian National Congress, who has contested and lost election three times from Nampally Assembly Constituency, filed a writ petition seeking special revision of the final electoral rolls of Nampally Assembly Constituency. He had contended that the electoral roll of Nampally Constituency contains the names of  10473 voters, who have already died; contains the names of bogus voters to the extent of 34867; contains the names of 45567 voters, who have already shifted from Nampally Assembly Constituency.

The learned counsel for the Election Commission of India submits that the Electoral Registration Officer under section 21(2)(a) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 had already initiated the work of revision of electoral rolls, and the same was published on 21.08.2023. The objections for it could have been filed between 21.08.2023 to 19.09.2023. It was further submitted that the claims and objections have been decided on 28.09.2023 and the final electoral roll has been published on 04.10.2023.

Court’s Analysis and Decision:

The High Court of Telangana highlighted that under Section 22 and Section 23(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 “provides for no amendment, transposition or deletion of any entry shall be made under Section 22 and no direction for the inclusion of a name in the electoral roll of a constituency shall be given under this Section, after the last date of making the nominations for election in that constituency”

And in the aforesaid case, the validity of the revised electoral roll, published on 04.10.2023, can not be challenged through the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Hence no case was made out in the present writ petition and the writ petition was disposed of, the High Court of Telangana added that in case the aggrieved person approaches the Electoral Registration Officer, either under Section 22 or under Section 23 of the 1950 Act, such a petition shall be dealt with in accordance with the law.

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Written By: Sushant Kumar Sharma

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Madras High Court Declares Election Of AIADMK MP P Ravindranath Null And Void.

Case Title:       P. Milany                                    … Petitioner                                  

                     S. Arumugamand Ors.                 … Respondents

Date of Decision:    Reserved On 30.06.2023.

                                Pronounced On 06.07.2023.


Citation: ELP. No.4/2019.


This election petition is filed to declare the election of the     3rd respondent/Returned Candidate on 23.05.2019 from No.33, Then Parliamentary Constituency as null and void and to pass such further or other orders as this Court deems fit and appropriate. The Election Commission of India declared Lok Sabha General election on 10.03.2019. As per the Schedule of Election, the first day for issuing nomination was on 19.03.2019 and the last date for receiving nomination was on 26.03.2019. The date for scrutiny of nominations was fixed on 27.03.2019 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations was on 29.03.2019 before 5.00 p.m. 18.04.2019 was the date of polling and 23.05.2019 was the date of counting and for declaration of election results. This Election Petition is filed on 08.07.2019 within time. The petitioner has filed this petition as an elector challenging the election of 3rd respondent as representative of Theni Parliamentary Constituency on grounds referring to Section 81, 100[1][a], 100[1][b], 100[1][d][i], 100[1][d][ii], 100[1][d][iii], 100[1][d][iv], 33, 36, 77, 123[1][A][b], 123[1][B][b] of the Representation of People Act, 1951 read with Rules 88, 89 of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. The election petition is filed mainly on the ground of suppression of assets and liabilities in Form-26 of election affidavit filed under Rule 4A of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, improper acceptance of nomination by the Returning Officer and corrupt practices by the associates of the 3rd respondent with the consent of third respondent. It is not in dispute that the then ruling party in the State fielded 3rd respondent as a candidate in All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam [AIADMK] Party under ‘two leaves’ symbol. It is also admitted that the 3rd respondent is the son of the then Deputy Chief Minister of the State Mr.O.Panneerselvam. Mr.E.V.K.S.Elangovan, who contested as a candidate of Indian National Congress in ‘hands’ symbol is the 2nd respondent herein and many other candidates who contested the election, did not participate in the Election Petition. Though the 19th respondent filed a counter supporting the petition and gave evidence as PW2, he did not participate in the proceedings by engaging an Advocate. The other respondents, except the 3rd respondent, have not contested the election petition.

Legal Analysis:

Justice SS Sundar passed the order on an election petition filed by   Milany, a voter from the constituency, who had challenged his election on the ground of suppression of sources of income and bribing of voters. Milany had submitted that the MP had mentioned only agriculture and business as his sources of income and not disclosed the income that he received as the director of a private company. He added that assets, investments, sources of income, shares, financial loans and liabilities were suppressed in the affidavit filed by Ravindranath at the time of nomination. Milany had also submitted a CD containing video evidence, circulated during the election, allegedly showing voters being bribed. Though Ravindranath had filed a petition to dismiss the election petition, the same was rejected by the court. Thereafter, Ravindranath appeared before the court and denied all allegations of misrepresentation and bribe. The court noted that as per Section 123 of the Representation of The People Act 1951, the person who alleges bribery should establish such bribery by way of gift, offer or promise. by a candidate or his agent or by any person with the consent of the candidate or his election agent. In the present case, the court observed that though Milany had alleged bribery by a lady, he could not establish that she was performing such acts as an agent of Ravindranath. “In such circumstances, though the petitioner’s case that there was bribery by a lady, it was not established with positive evidence that a lady by name Mrs. Saveetha Arunprasad has indulged in bribing the electors/voters either as an agent appointed by 3rd respondent or his chief agent or acted with the consent of 3rd respondent. Therefore, this Court is unable to hold that the petitioner has established corrupt practices as defined under section 123 of the RP Act, 1951,” the court observed.

With respect to non-disclosure, the court was satisfied that Ravindranath had not disclosed his assets correctly. The court also refused to accept Ravindranath’s explanation that the discrepancy was a result of a typographical error. The court further observed that if such discrepancies were condoned in the absence of an explanation or supporting document, it would go against the principles laid down by the Supreme Court to save democracy as part of the basic structure of the Constitution. “For all the reasons stated above, this Court holds that the affidavit filed under Rule 4[A] of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, has not been validly made, Further this Court holds that the Returned Candidate has suppressed his assets equivalent to the value of 15,000 equity shares in M/s. Vani Fabrics Private Limited allegedly transferred by the Returned Candidate in favour of his brother and other assets and sources of income as admitted by him. Further, the 3rd respondent has given a false information in the Election Affidavit filed under Rule 4[A] of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961,” the court observed.


“This Court, from the facts as seen from the documents and evidence, finds that the Returning Officer has not conducted the scrutiny of nominations strictly in terms of Section 36 of the RP Act, 1951 and instructions given under the Hand Book. She has shown her partisan attitude in favour of 3rd respondent at the time of scrutiny. As a consequence, this Court holds that the nomination of 3rd respondent has been improperly accepted by the Returning Officer,” the court noted. The suppression has not materially affected the result of the election. Pointing out that the 3rd respondent has won the election with huge margin of 76,000 votes, he submitted that the election of 3rd respondent in this case, cannot be declared as void on the ground of suppression. The Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the case of Sri Meirembam Prithiviraj @ Prithviraj Singh Vs. Pukhrem Sharatchandra Singh reported in 2017 SCC 487, has rejected the contention of the returned candidate that under Section 100[1][d] of the RP Act, 1951, that there must be proof proof that the result of the election was materially affected by improper acceptance of nomination. Suppression is proved. As a consequence, this Court holds that nomination of the returned candidate had been improperly accepted. In view of the conclusions reached above on all issues, this Court has to allow the election petition and declare the election of the 3rd respondent / returned candidate as void. In the result, the Election Petition in ELP.No.4/2019 is allowed and the election of 3rd respondent / Returned Candidate on 23.05.2019 from No.33, Then Parliamentary Constituency is declared as null and void. 


The Madras High Court has declared the election of P. Ravindranath, son of former Tamil Nadu CM O Paneerselvan and the sole Member of Parliament from the AIADMK party null and void. The court however kept the order in abeyance for a month, to enable appeal against the order.

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