Muslim women’s photo IDs under scanner again

via PNS | New Delhi published on February 22, 2010

After being snubbed once for raising an objection over Muslim women being photographed for purposes of electoral rolls, petitioner Ajmal Khan now wants that such electoral rolls should not come in the public domain.

The latest demand by Khan came after the Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan had earlier said, “If you do not want to be seen by members of the public, then do not go to vote.”

Representing the petitioner, senior advocate PS Narasimha informed the Bench that its objection against the Election Commission direction to get faces photographed for electoral roll verification emanated from an apprehension that the same could be multiplied, copies of which could be circulated then in public domain. This, he felt was contrary to the religious tenets of Islam, which prohibits a Muslim woman from showing her face in public.

Stumped by such a request, the Bench said, “Then you are asking for two types of electoral rolls…the problem is the electoral agents need to have photos to identify.” Even the Election Commission was not amused by such a request. Appearing for the Commission, advocate Meenakshi Arora said that the apprehension of the petitioner was far fetched. She stated that the electoral roll made available to public did not contain the photographs. The master copy with photographs is made available only with the election agents.

But Narasimha suggested that the possibility of election agents multiplying copies of the photographs, enlarging it and using it against the candidate or voter could not be ruled out. The Bench, while agreeing to the proposal to issue guidelines against misuse of photographs by election agents, turned down the demand for refusing such electoral rolls even to election agents.

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