PUCL July 2002

Petition to the Chief election Commissioner, July 2002

Dear Mr. Lyngdoh,
The 10th Gujarat Assembly is finally getting dissolved. It is for
the Election Commission to decide now the date of the forthcoming
elections and we the concerned citizens feel that the election should
not be held a day earlier than the schedule.

The undersigned are all apolitical. We have no party and no personal
& political ambitions. However we feel that if the elections are held
now, they would be far from free and fair. Our reasons are as follows:

1. One crore voters (36% of the total Gujarat voters) are yet to
receive identity cards. If Election Commission insists on identity
cards so that the franchise cannot be exercised without it, this
one-third voters would loose their right to vote. This cannot be
allowed in the larger interest of the democracy.

2. Three lakhs affected Gujaratis are still staying away from their
homes-be it in relief camps or with the friends and relatives. The
Progress of rehabilitation and distribution of compensation has been
less than satisfactory. The hasty closure of relief camps does not
denote the return of normalcy as claimed by the State government and
an atmosphere of fear and distrust continues to prevail, with certain
sections of the local media playing an unhelpful role. This is
certainly far from conducive to free and fair elections.

3. Two District Panchayats and 84 local municipalities are deprived of
elections though these were due. The Gujarat government has postponed
them four times and the reason given for this is that the atmosphere
is not conducive. If these local elections cannot be held how can one
hold them for the Legislative Assembly in the same area.

4. The monsoon is far from normal. In some parts, the farmers are yet
to start sowing because of the lack of rains. 69% of the total
cultivable land has received some rain but they are also facing an
acute shortage of water and the overall situation in the State is
near a drought. The State government has already started sending
tankers for drinking water to many areas. Power shortage is also
bothering agriculturists. How can these people be involved in the
election process?

5. The Chief Minister (now a Caretaker) is yet to take the
Investigation and Enquiry Commission seriously. It is therefore felt
that justice may be denied or delayed beyond a reasonable period to
the affected community in the State.

In these circumstances, we do not think that the present government,
being a Caretaker Government in charge of administration, can conduct
free and fair elections.

It is therefore essential that the Centre takes over the
administration for the next Assembly Elections.

The very fact that the Chief Minister has reason to request the
Governor to prepone the Assembly Elections means that he is unable to
perform his constitutional duties and maintain law and order, which
is his prime responsibility.

This admission alone points to the necessity of his quitting
otherwise a large number of Gujarat's voters will loose their right
in the absence of law and order by booth capturing and other illegal
means which pollute the election process.

It is therefore felt that till the Election Commission is satisfied,
the election process in Gujarat should not commence.

We request the Commission to follow the 1995 example of the Kashmir
Legislative Assembly and visit Gujarat, give an audience to concerned
citizens, social activists, NGOs and political parties and only then
have a conclusion about the prevailing situation.


Mrinalini Sarabhai-Sarvodaya International
Mallika Sarabhai-Darpana Academy of Performing Arts
Digant Oza-Satyajeet Trust, Editor JALSEVA
Indukumar Jani-Gujarat Khet Mazdoor Parishad
Sukhdev Patel-President JANPATH
Sudarshan Iyengar-GIDR
Chunibhai Vaidya-Lok Samiti
Sridhar Iyengar-Prakriti
Kirti Shah-Ahmedabad Study Action Group
Radha Sridhar-Prakriti
Batuk Vora-Jan Chetna Foundation
Gautam Thakar-PUCL
M.S. Jowhar-SPRAT
Dr. Raghu Rangarajan-Gujarat Relief Fund
Dilip Ranpura-Writor & Colmnist
Pro. Harshad Desai-Educationist
Yashvant Mehta-Writor & Colmnist