To Exercise Right to Vote, Women Need to Lift Veil for Identification: SC

The Supreme Court has ruled that if a woman declines to lift her veil to be photographed, voter identity card cannot be issued to her, said media reports.

According to reports, a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma gave the ruling on Friday while hearing a plea moved by Madurai resident Ajmal Khan.

Khan had pleaded that printing photos of Muslim women in the voters list violates Islam and their fundamental right to practise and profess their religion, said reports.

Not convinced with the plea, the apex court asked the petitioner what Muslim women would do if they contested elections, said reports.

“What if you want to contest an election?” asked the court. “If you have such strong religious sentiments, and do not want to be seen by members of public, then do not go to vote. You cannot go with burqa to vote. It will create complications in identification of voters.

“If someone comes to vote in a burqa and the photograph was also taken with a veil covering the face, how would anyone identify the voter?” the court was quoted as saying.

Reports said that Khan had appealed to the apex court following an identical petition he moved to the Madras High Court was turned down.

In the plea, he had questioned Election Commission of India’s move to have photographs of voters in electoral rolls, said reports.

“The religious custom and preachings of Holy Quran lay down that Muslim women should wear purdah and ‘burqa’ and show their faces only to their husbands and close relatives,” Khan was quoted as saying in his plea.

Khan’s plea said that Muslim women were not against voter identity cards, but opposed having their pictures printed on a public document.

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