Poll panel favours voting rights for under-trials (Lead)

December 21st, 2009 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) After allowing transgenders a separate ‘third’ identity on electoral rolls, the Election Commission has decided to write to the government to allow under-trials to vote in elections.
Replying to queries from the gathering after delivering the Second Mother Teresa Memorial Lecture at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) here Monday, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said under-trials should be allowed to vote.

He noted that under-trials have the right to contest elections but no right to vote.

“We want to enable under-trials to vote,” he said.

The CEC said he had raised the issue of voting rights of under-trials at a function where Law Minister M. Veerapa Moily was present. “The law minster was in agreement. We will write to government shortly. I am optimistic that it will come through soon,” he said.

Chawla, who has authored a biography of Mother Teresa, said that the move was part of this “legacy”.

The CEC said universities were institutions for lively debates and the suggestion of giving separate identity to transgenders had also came from students.

He said transgenders have been permitted to register as “Other” or “O” and the EC has revised the format of electoral rolls.

“Besides, relevant forms used by the commission wherein there is a provision of indication of sex of the elector have been suitably amended,” added Chawla.

Instructions, he said, had been sent out to all electoral registration authorities in the country to immediately implement the decision.

Earlier, in his lecture on “Electoral Democracy in India”, Chawla gave an overview of the electoral process terming it the “largest management exercise in the world”.

IGNOU’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Pravin Sinclair said the university was ceaselessly striving to reach out to people keen to improve their knowledge. She said the university had 2.6 million students on its rolls and the annual enrolment was about 0.1 million students in 338 programmes.

The lecture was jointly organised by IGNOU and Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

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