13 May 2019
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking to prepone polling hours from 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. for the remaining phases of the general election.
Advocate Mohammad Nizam Pasha moved the apex court seeking a direction for advancing the polling hours on account of commencement of Ramzan and heat wave forecast in many states.
Earlier, the petition was moved before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi which had asked the Election Commission to look into the matter.
Advocate Amit Sharma, appearing for the Election Commission, told that Court that poll body had already heard the petitioner and his representation in detail and passed an order declining advancement of the polls.
The Vacation Bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna observed that the poll panel had already taken a decision and so the court dismissed the plea.
Last week, the Supreme Court had directed the petitioner to present the case before the Election Commission.
Rejecting the plea, the EC said it does not think altering the timing for polls is feasible for the remaining three phases of the general election.
The poll body in its response said the Commission had factored into -- shortage of manpower, logistics, heat wave conditions, presence of polling agents during mock polls, adequate facilities at each polling station, and the polling officers were already working at extended hours to complete the job.
Therefore, in view of these circumstances, polling hours were already long enough, it was best not to alter the timing, it said.
The poll body also cited that the timing of the sunrise varies in states going to polls, and in this case the balloting would have to start before sunrise.
In such a scenario, additional logistical and administrative changes would have to be introduced, in addition to the security arrangements.
It also told the petitioner that election officials were already hard-pressed, and clocking nearly 16 hours at work on the polling day, and starting the polls early would further impact the mock poll process too.
The petition was filed by advocates Mohammed Nizammuddin Pasha and Asad Hayat, before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for urgent hearing. The bench directed the poll body's counsel to take a decision on the issue.