Chennai: The Madras High court on Wednesday directed the District Collector of Dharmapuri to consider setting up of a separate polling booth within the Arunthathiar Colony, to ensure Dalits exercised their votes freely and independently there.
The First Bench Comprising Acting Chief Justice Satish K Agnihotri and Justice M M Sundresh disposing a plea by S Sathiachandren, an advocate, said "considering the fact that the petitioner has made a representation on December 13, 2013 to the EC, we are of the view that it would be appropriate to direct the District Collector, Dharmapuri, to look into the grievance and take appropriate steps, including feasibility of having a separate polling booth within the Dalit colony to ensure that people there exercise their vote freely and independently in the Lok Sabha polls."
The counsel for the EC submitted that it is not feasible to have a separate polling booth in the Colony, but assured that appropriate protection would be given to make sure that the voters there are made to vote without fear.
The District Election officer in his affidavit stated that there are a total of 261 voters in the colony and for providing a separate polling booth minimum 300 voters are required. It is not desirable to have separate booths for different communities.
However, the official ensured that all steps would be taken that people are able to exercise their voting right without any fear.
The bench in its order said "we do not go into the issue of allotment of separate booth as it is for the EC to which is the appropriate authority to decide the matter. We hope and trust that the EC would provide adequate protection to the voters in an appropriate manner.
"However, we are of the view that it would be appropriate to direct the District Collector to look into the matter and take appropriate steps including feasibility of having a separate polling booth within the colony", the bench said.