India's apex court has asked the Election Commission to pass “necessary orders” on a representation seeking advancing of the voting time to 5 am from 7 am for the remaining three phases of parliamentary elections due to the holy month of Ramadan and heat-wave conditions. A plea in this regard was mentioned on Thursday for urgent hearing before a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
The bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, took the petition on board and said “the Election Commission of India is directed to pass necessary orders. The writ petition is disposed of in the above terms.” The petition, filed by advocates Mohammad Nizamuddin Pasha and Asad Hayat, sought advancing the polling hours by two to two and half hours to commence from 4.30 am or 5 am instead of 7 am, in the remaining phases on May 6, 12 and 19.
The plea said Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, is likely to commence from May 6, the day of fifth phase of voting. The petitioners said they had given a representation to the Election Commission on Monday last in this regard but the poll panel has not responded to it.
It also said that Indian Meteorological Department has issued warnings indicating severe heat wave conditions over the next few days, with temperatures rising up to five degrees more than normal in poll-bound areas of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. “In the intense heat, it will be very difficult for Muslim voters to queue up at the polling booths during the day,” according to the plea.