The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking directions to the Election Commission of India for an early start to polling for the Lok Sabha elections during the month of Ramzan, Bar and Bench reported. The religious month of Ramzan, which Muslims observe by fasting, commenced on May 7.
The petitioner had asked the court to direct the poll body to start the voting process two hours earlier, around 5 am, instead of 7 am. The petition also cited the current weather conditions to say voters may find it difficult to step out during the peak heat conditions. Elections in the first six phases of the Lok Sabha elections began at 7 am. The final phase of polls will be held on May 19.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission to pass an appropriate order on the plea. On May 5, the poll panel had said there will be no change in the timings for Ramzan.
The Supreme Court on Monday said it cannot dictate the polling hours. The vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna said people can come in the morning and vote instead. “It is the Election Commission’s discretion,” the top court said, according to News18. “Logistical problems will also occur.”
The petition had said it would be difficult for Muslim voters to queue up at the polling booths during the day in the intense heat. “During this month, large percentage of the voting population, i.e. adult Muslims, both men and women, young and old alike will be fasting and will not be consuming food or water starting approximately 1.5 hour before dawn till dusk every day,” the petition said.