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Delhi polls on Feb 7, counting on Feb 10

New Delhi: Election Commission of India has declare General Election to the Legislative Assembly of Delhi. The last Legislative Assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi was dissolved by the President of India with immediate effect vide his Order No. G.S.R. 773(E), dated 4th November, 2014, issued under clause (b) of sub-Section (2) of Section 6 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 (1 of 1992) read with clause (a) of the Order No. S.O. 410 (E), dated the 16th February, 2014, issued under Article 239AB of the Constitution, in relation to the NCT of Delhi. By virtue of its powers, duties and functions under Article 324 read with Section 5 of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act 1991  and Section 15 of Representation of the People Act, 1951 and following the principle laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Reference Case No.1 of 2002 (Reference by the President under Article 143 relating to General Elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly on its premature dissolution), the Commission is under mandate to hold elections to constitute the new Legislative Assembly in the National Capital Territory of Delhi within six months from the date of dissolution of the last NCT of Delhi Legislative Assembly, i.e., by the 3rd May, 2015. (1) Assembly Constituencies The total number of Assembly Constituencies in the NCT of Delhi and seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, as determined by the Delimitation Commission under the Delimitation Act, 2002 is as under: -
Total No. ofAssembly Constituencies Reserved for SCs Reserved for STs
70 12 ---
 (2)      Electoral Rolls The  Electoral  Rolls  of  all  the  Assembly  Constituencies  in  the  NCT of Delhi revised with reference to 1.1.2015 as the qualifying date have been finally published on 05.01.2015. The number of electors in the NCT of Delhi is 13085251. (3)      Photo Electoral Rolls Photo electoral rolls will be used during the forthcoming general election in the NCT of Delhi. The photo percentages in Photo Electoral Rolls is 100%. (4)      Electors Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) Identification of the voters at the polling booth at the time of poll shall be mandatory. Electors who have been provided with EPIC shall be identified through EPIC. Presently, the EPIC coverage in the NCT of Delhi is 100%. All the residual electors, if any, are advised to obtain their Elector Photo Identity Cards  from  the  Electoral  Registration  Officers  of  their  Assembly  Constituencies urgently. In order to ensure that no voter is deprived of his/her franchise, if his/her name figures in the Electoral Rolls, separate instructions will be issued to allow additional documents for identification of voters, if needed.  (5)      Polling Stations There are 11763 Polling Stations in the NCT of Delhi on the date of final publication of electoral rolls. For the facility of physically challenged persons, instructions have been issued to ensure that all polling stations as far as practicable, are located at ground floor and ramps are provided. Facilitation shall also be provided for locating electors’ names in a polling station or a group of polling stations through help lines and facilitation centers. (6)     Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) at Polling Stations The Commission has issued instructions to the Chief Electoral Officer of NCT of Delhi to ensure that Polling Stations are equipped with Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) like drinking water, shed, toilet, ramp for the physically challenged voters and a standard voting compartment etc. (7)      Polling Parties and Randomization Polling parties shall be formed randomly, through special application software, three-stage randomization will be adopted. First, from a wider district database of eligible officials, a shortlist of a minimum 120% of the required numbers will be randomly picked up. This group will be trained for polling duties. In the second stage, from this trained manpower, actual polling parties as required shall be formed by random selection software in the presence of General Observers.  In the third randomization, the polling stations will be allocated randomly just before the polling party’s departure. There shall be such randomization for Police Constables and Home guards also, who are deployed at the polling stations on the poll day. (8)      Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) The poll in the NCT of Delhi will be conducted at all polling stations using EVMs. VVPAT Electronic Voting Machines will be used in 2 (two) Assembly Constituencies. The Commission has already made arrangements to ensure availability of adequate number of EVMs for the smooth conduct of elections. The Commission has issued a new set of instructions with regard to the First Level Check of EVMs, that will be used in the poll in the NCT of Delhi. A two-stage randomization of EVMs will be made. In the first stage, all the EVMs stored in the district storage centre will be randomized by the District  Election  Officer  (DEO)  in  the  presence  of  the  representatives  of  the recognized political parties for allocation assembly constituency-wise. EVMs will be prepared and set for elections after finalization of the contesting candidates. At this stage also, candidates or their agents/representatives will be allowed to check and satisfy themselves in every manner about the functionality of the EVMs. After the EVMs in a constituency are prepared for the poll by the Returning Officer and the ballot units are fitted with ballot papers, then the EVMs will again be randomized to decide the actual polling stations in which they will be ultimately used. The Second Stage randomization will be done in the presence of Observers, Candidates or their Election Agents. (9)      None of the Above (NOTA) Option in EVMs In its judgment dated 27th  September, 2013 in Writ Petition (C) No. 161 of 2004, the Supreme Court has directed that there should be a “None of the Above” (NOTA) option on the ballot papers and EVMs.   The Court has directed that the Commission should implement it ‘either in a phased manner or at a time with the assistance of Government of India’. On the Balloting Unit, below the name of the last candidate, there will now be a button for NOTA option so that electors who do not want to vote for any of the candidates can exercise their option by pressing the button against NOTA. The Commission is taking steps to bring this to the knowledge of voters and all other stakeholders and to train all field level officials including the polling personnel about the NOTA option. (10)    Affidavits of candidates – all columns to be filled in In pursuance of the judgment dated 13th  September, 2013 passed by the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (C) No. 121 of 2008, which among other things makes it obligatory for the Returning Officer “to check whether the information required is fully  furnished  at  the  time  of  filing  of  affidavit  with  the  nomination  paper”,  the Commission has issued instructions that in the affidavit to be filed along with the nomination paper, candidates are required to fill up all columns.  If any column in the affidavit is left blank, the Returning Officer will issue a notice to the candidate to file the affidavit with all columns filled in.   After such notice, if a candidate fails to file affidavit complete in all respects, the nomination paper will be liable to be rejected at the time of scrutiny.   The Chief Electoral Officer has been directed to brief all Returning Officers about the judgment of the Supreme Court and the Commission’s instructions.  (11)    Communication plan The    Commission    attaches    great    importance    to    preparation    and implementation of a perfect communication plan at the district/constituency level for the  smooth  conduct of  elections  and  to  enable  concurrent  intervention  and mid course  correction  on  the  poll  day.    For  the  said  purpose,  the Commission  has directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Delhi to coordinate with the officers  of  Telecommunication  Department  in  the  State  headquarters, MTNL, BSNL authorities, the representatives of other leading service providers in Delhi so that network status is assessed and communication shadow areas be identified.  The CEO has also been advised to ensure best communication plan in the NCT of Delhi. (12)    Videography All critical events will be video-graphed. District Election Officers will arrange sufficient number of video and digital cameras and camera teams for the purpose. The events for videography will include filing of nominations, scrutiny thereof and allotment of symbols, First Level Checking, preparations and storage of Electronic Voting  Machines,  important  public  meetings,  processions  etc.  during  campaign, process of dispatching of postal ballot papers, polling process in identified vulnerable polling  stations,  storage  of  polled  EVMs,  counting  of  votes  etc.  Webcasting, Videography  and  Digital  cameras  will  also  be  deployed  inside  polling  booths wherever needed. CDs of video recordings will be available on payment to anyone who wishes to obtain a copy of the same. (13)    Law and Order and Deployment of Forces Conduct of elections involves elaborate security management.  It includes ensuring the security of polling personnel, security at the polling stations, security of polling materials and also the overall security of the election process. Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are deployed for area domination prior to poll in order to build confidence in the minds of voters specially vulnerable voters viz. weaker section, minorities etc. The Commission has taken various measures to ensure free and fair elections by creating an atmosphere in which each elector is able to access the polling station without being obstructed or being unduly influenced/intimidated by anybody. Based  on  the  assessment  of  the  ground  situation,  Central  Armed  Police Forces  (CAPF) and State  Armed  Police  (SAP)  drawn  from  other  States  will  be deployed during these elections. The CAPF and SAP will be used generally for safeguarding the polling stations and for providing security to the electors and polling personnel at the polling stations on the poll day. Besides, these forces will be used for securing the strong rooms where the EVMs are stored and for securing the counting centers and for other purposes, as required. The Commission has been issuing instructions from time to time with regard to the advance preventive measures to be taken by the District Magistrates and Police authorities to maintain the Law & Order and to create atmosphere conducive for the conduct of free and fair elections. The Commission will be constantly monitoring the ground situation closely and will take appropriate measures to ensure peaceful, free and fair polls in these States. (14)    Protection to SC/ST Electors As per Section 3 (1) (vii) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, forces or intimidates a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe not to vote or to vote for a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with  fine.  The Commission has asked the Government of NCT of Delhi to bring these provisions to the notice of all concerned for prompt action. (15)    General Observers The Commission will deploy General Observers in adequate number to ensure smooth conduct of elections. The Observers will be asked to keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process to ensure free and fair elections. Their names, addresses  within  the  district/constituency  and  their  telephone  numbers  will  be publicized in local newspapers so that the general public can quickly approach them for any grievance redressal. The Observers will be given a detailed briefing by the Commission before their deployment. Commission may also deploy Police Observers to keep a close watch on law & order situation. (16)    Election Expenditure Monitoring Comprehensive instructions for the purpose of effective monitoring of the election expenditure of the candidates have been issued, which include formation of flying squads, static surveillance Teams, video surveillance Teams, involvement of Investigation Directorates of Income Tax Deptt. etc. State Excise Departments and police  authorities  have  been  asked  to  monitor  production,  distribution,  sale  and storage of liquor and other intoxicants during the election process. For greater transparency and for ease of monitoring of Election Expenses, Candidates would be required to open a separate bank account and incur their election expenses from that very account. The Investigation Directorate of Income Tax Dept. has been asked to open Air Intelligence unit in the airports located in NCT of Delhi and also to gather intelligence and take necessary action against movement of large sum of money in these states. Expenditure Observers and Assistant Exp. Observers from Central Government are being appointed to keep close watch on election expenditure of the candidates. Control room and Complaint Monitoring Centre with 24 hours toll free numbers shall be operative during the entire election process. Banks and financial intelligence units of Government of India have been asked to forward suspicious cash withdrawal reports to the election officials. All candidates must ensure that they file their affidavits in the revised format (Form 26) only. The revised format is available on the ECI website and in Returning Officer’s handbook. (17)    Paid News To deal with the issue of ‘Paid News’, a mechanism has been laid out with three tier of Media certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMC) at District, State and ECI level. Revised comprehensive instructions on ‘Paid News’ are available on the Commission’s Website. Necessary instructions have been issued to the CEO of the NCT of Delhi to ensure briefing of political parties and Media in the districts about ‘Paid News’ and the mechanism to check ‘Paid News’. The MCMCs have been trained to do their job. (18)    Police Observers The Commission may deploy IPS officers as Police Observers at district level, in the poll going State depending upon the need and sensitivity. They will monitor all activities  relating  to  force  deployment,  law  and  order  situation  and  co-ordinate between civil and Police administration to ensure free and fair election.  (19)    Micro Observers In  addition  to  General  Observers,  the  Commission  will  also  deploy  Micro Observers to observe the poll proceedings in the polling stations on the poll day in selected    critical    polling    stations.    They    will    be    chosen    from    Central Government/Central PSUs officials. Micro-Observers will observe the proceedings at the polling stations on the poll day right from the mock poll to the completion of poll and  the  process  of  sealing  of  EVMs  and  other  documents  to  ensure  that  all instructions of the Commission are complied with by the Polling Parties and the Polling Agents. They will report to the General Observers directly about any vitiation of the poll proceedings in their allotted polling stations. (20)   Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) Comprehensive measures for voters’ education were taken up during the Special Roll Revision process in the poll going state. These measures will continue during the electoral process. Chief Electoral Officer of the poll-going state has been directed to ensure wide dissemination of election related information and also for carrying out Voter Education campaigns as well as adequate facilitation measures for ensuing wider participation of people in polling. Model polling stations will also be set up in identified districts. Voter-helplines, Voters’ Facilitation Centres, web and SMS based search facilities are active for assistance of voters. There are special facilities in place for those, who are physically challenged or have special needs. (21)    Conduct of Officials The Commission expects all officials engaged in the conduct of elections to discharge their duties in an impartial manner without any fear or favour. They are deemed to be on deputation to the Commission and shall be subject to its control, supervision and discipline. The conduct of all Government officials who have been entrusted with election related responsibilities and duties would remain under constant scrutiny of the Commission and strict action shall be taken against those officials who are found wanting on any account. The Commission has already given instructions that no election related official or Police officer of the rank of Inspector and above shall be allowed to continue in his home district.  Besides,  instructions  have  also  been  issued  that  election  related officials including police officials of Inspector level & above who have completed three years in a district during last four years should be transferred out of that district.Police officers of the rank of Sub Inspectors who have completed three years in a Sub   Division/Assembly   Constituency   or   are   posted   in    their   home    sub division/assembly constituency shall be transferred out of that Sub Division and the Assembly Constituency. The Commission has also instructed the Government of NCT of Delhi not to associate any officer with the electoral process against whom charges have been framed in a court of law in any case. (22)    District Election Plan The District Election Officers have been asked to prepare a comprehensive district election plan in consultation with District Police Officials and Sector Officers including the route plan and communication plan for conduct of elections. These plans will be vetted by the Observers taking into account vulnerability mapping exercise and mapping of critical  polling  station  in  accordance  with  Election  Commission  of  India’s  extant instructions. (23)    Model Code of Conduct The Model Code of Conduct comes into effect immediately from now onwards. All the provisions of the Model Code will apply to the whole of poll going State (NCT of Delhi) and will  be  applicable  to  all  candidates,  political  parties,  the  State  Government. The Model Code of Conduct shall be applicable to the Union Govt. for the State concerned. The Commission has made elaborate arrangements for ensuring the effective implementation of the MCC Guidelines Any violations of these Guidelines would be strictly dealt with and the Commission re-emphasizes that the instructions issued in this regard from time to time should be read and understood by all Political Parties, contesting candidates and their agents/representatives, to avoid any misgivings or lack of information or understanding/interpretation. (24)    Photo Voter Slips To facilitate the voters to know where he/she is enrolled as a voter at a particular polling station and what is his/her serial number in the Electoral roll, the Commission has directed that voter slip along with Photo (wherever present in the roll) will be distributed to all enrolled voters by the District Election Officer. It has also been directed that the said voter slip should be in the languages in which electoral roll is published for that Assembly Constituency. (25) Complaint Redressal Mechanism – Call Centre and Website Based The poll going State shall have a complaint Redressal mechanism based on website and call centre. The number of call centre is 1950, which is a toll free number. The URL of the complaint registration website will be announced by the Chief Electoral Officer separately. Complaints can be registered by making calls to the toll free call centre numbers or on the website. Action will be taken within time limit on all complaints. Complainants will also be informed of the action taken by SMS and by the call centre. Complainants can also see the details of the action taken on their complaints on the website. (26) Schedule of Election The Commission has prepared the schedule for holding General Election to the Legislative Assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi after taking into consideration all relevant aspects, like the climatic condition, academic calendars, festivals, prevailing law and order situation in the State, availability of Central Police Forces and timely deployment of forces, and assessment of other ground realities. The Commission, after considering all relevant aspect, has decided to recommend to the Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi to issue notification for the General Election to the Legislative Assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi under the relevant provision of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

About Sanjay Trivedi

Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He is serving as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University, the university which controlling 440 colleges of Engineering, Management, Pharmacy & Architecture colleges in Gujarat.

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