The Supreme Court has asked the Election Commission whether polling can start from 5 AM during the Muslim fasting period of Ramzan. The SC has asked the EC to pass necessary order in a representation that sought the preponement of voting from 7 AM to 5 AM owing to Ramzan. The petition said that this should be done to ensure convenient and fair opportunity for everyone to cast their vote, especially, the Muslim community.
The petitioners were Mohammad Nizammudin Pasha and Asad Hayat.
The petition sought the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission to increase the time of polling for 2 to 2 and a half hours so the voting could begin at 4:30 AM or 5:00 AM as the logistics would permit for the rest of the three phases of 2019 Lok Sabha election. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by two lawyers.
The petition said that several Muslims who are fasting would be unable to go out and cast their vote since the heat would be too severe.
The petition said:
“During this month, a 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 hours before dawn till dusk every day. In this intense heat, it will be very difficult for Muslim voters to queue up at the polling booths during the day in the intense heat to exercise their franchise. During Ramzaan, most practising Muslims stay up / wake up for an early morning meal called Sehri and sleep after the morning Fajr prayer. Thereafter, they avoid going out in the heat to the extent possible to avoid thirst, dehydration and the possibility of heatstroke”.
The petition also said that the Indian Meteorological Department, Government of India has issued a temperature warning and that it is expected to be hotter than usual in Madhya Pradesh, Eastern UP, Bihar, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. “In this intense heat, it will be very difficult for Muslim voters to queue up at the polling booths during the day to exercise their franchise.
The petition also said that advancement of the poll timing would allow Muslim to vote immediately after the morning prayers (Fajr) and return home before it gets too hot.
The petition also said that the representation has been made to the EC and EC hasn’t responded or acknowledged the representation. Hence, the SC is requested to direct the SC to extend timing to help Muslim voters.
Essentially, the petition requested the Supreme Court to direct EC to change polling rules because fasting Muslims would feel too hot while fasting during Ramzan. The petitioners also said that they have already made a representation to the Election Commission with this particular grievance. The Supreme Court has asked the Election Commission to pass necessary orders in this regard.