Known as 'Tendered Votes', it gives the power to a person who 'seeks to vote after another person has already voted as such elector.'
India, as we all know, is a democratic country where the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. It is also referred as “rule of the majority”. In this context, it becomes really important to know about voting and related rights. Today, being the National Voters' Day, let us make ourselves aware of one such right, which comes under Section 49P.
What does it mean actually?
The law has termed it as 'Tendered Votes'. According to The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, it gives the power to a person who 'seeks to vote after another person has already voted as such elector.'
What does the rule book say?
In such a scenario, every such elector shall before being supplied with a tendered ballot paper write his name against the entry relating to him in Form 17B. On receiving the ballot paper, he shall forthwith proceed to the voting compartment and record there his vote on the ballot paper by placing a cross mark ‘X’ with the instrument or article supplied for the purpose on or near the symbol of the candidate for whom he intends to vote. Then he should fold the ballot paper so as to conceal his vote. Following this, he should show it to the presiding officer, if required, the distinguishing mark on the ballot paper and then give it to him who shall place it in a cover specially kept for the purpose. finally leaving the polling station.
If owing to blindness or physical infirmities, such elector is unable to record his vote without assistance. In such cases, the presiding officer shall permit him to take with him a companion, subject to the same conditions and after following the same procedure as laid down in rule 49N for recording the vote in accordance with his wishes.
However, if a candidate secures victory by a large number of votes, these tendered votes are not usually considered since they cannot tip the scales in any manner.
Instances in the past
During the Rajasthan Assembly Elections in the year 2008, then Union Minister CP Joshi, contesting from the Nathdwara constituency, lost to BJP's Kalyan Singh Chouhan by one vote. Joshi had secured 62,215 votes and Chouhan had won 62,616 votes.
CP Joshi then moved the Rajasthan High Court in the year 2009, claiming that some of the votes cast were tendered. Joshi told the court that some of the votes were tendered votes cast under Section 49P of the Election Rules, 1961 and sought that these be included in the vote count. He also claimed that Chouhan's wife had voted illegally in two places.
In 2012, Chouhan's victory was nullified by the HC. However, Kalyan Singh Chouhan later approached the Supreme Court and the SC ordered a recount of the votes and asked that tender votes be included. After the recount, Joshi and Chouhan were tied with the same number of votes. In case of a tie, the law states that the winner be declared after a draw. Kalyan Singh Chouhan was thus chosen the Nathdwara MLA after the SC turned down Joshi's appeal seeking cancellation of the elections.
Film that spread the awareness
Tamil actor Vijay-starrer Sarkar, released in 2018, talked about the same law at length. In the movie, the constituency in which the protagonist Sundar casts his vote has a candidate who wins by a wide margin. However, the former's insistence on casting his vote inspires others who had been similarly cheated to do so, leading to the CM's swearing-in to be stopped.
Well, we hope this might have given you a better understanding of the particular law. Exercise it whenever the need arises!