Election Commission of India briefs General, Police and Expenditure Observers for the Assembly Elections in the States of Haryana and Maharashtra
The Election Commission of India today organized a Briefing for Observers to be deployed for Elections to be held next month for the Haryana and Maharashtra Legislative Assemblies. Around 500 officers drawn from IAS, IPS officers as also from Indian Revenue Service and few other Central Services attended the briefing meeting. These officers are being deployed as General, Police and Expenditure Observers.
Reminding the Observers of their crucial role, Chief Election Commissioner Sh. Sunil Arora emphasised on the conduct of elections in a transparent, participative & voter friendly manner, more so for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens who need assistance. He stated that the Observers should ensure strict compliance of ECI’s rules and Standard Operating Procedures to be followed. Sh Sunil Arora pointed out that the officers need to be extremely careful to ensure that no mistakes are committed. Sh Arora cautioned that even the most minor of mistakes at times spiral into avoidable news reporting. He said the Observers as ECI appointed nominees need to be vigilant, neutral and responsive in their approach to all stakeholders at field level. Sh Arora noted that keeping in view specific requirements, the Commission has also appointed two Special Expenditure Observers for the State of Maharashtra viz Ms Madhu Mahajan (ex IRS 1982) who, given her past experience in Investigations Wing of Income Tax department, was appointed Special Expenditure Observer for Tamil Nadu in recent Lok Sabha elections also and Sh B Murali Kumar (ex IRS 1983) who was also appointed Special Expenditure Observer for 8-Vellore Parliamentary Constituency during Lok Sabha Elections and had served as DGIT(Inv.), Chennai earlier.
Election Commissioner Sh Ashok Lavasa noted that ECI’s procedures for the field level functionaries are well laid out. “ECI expects and depends a lot on the Observers as the ground level officers also depend a lot on expert advice and impartial perspective of the Observers so posted”, Sh Lavasa added. The Election Commissioner said ECI has developed the Observers’ App and other tech-tools such as CVigil to aid the officers, though it is expected that the Observers would be alert and discharge their duties faithfully at all times.
Addressing the group, Election Commissioner Sh Sushil Chandra drew the attention of the Officers that as Observers they have a crucial statutory duty to perform on behalf of Election Commission of India. He exhorted the officers to observe all due details with respect to smooth conduct of elections on the ground level – be it the Assured Minimum Facilities at Polling stations or the diligent following of laid down procedures of mock poll, etc for Electronic Voting Machines or enforcement of expenditure guidelines and coordinated functioning among all agencies to take preventive measures to ensure free and fair elections. He pointed out that the role of Expenditure Observers has become quite significant in current milieu. The Observers should keep a keen eye on all key election functionaries at the field and should act as eyes & ears of the Commission , Sh Chandra added.
During the half-day long briefing sessions, the officers were given comprehensive and thorough inputs about the various aspects of election management by the Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Planning & SVEEP Sh Umesh Sinha as also on aspects of Electoral Roll, IT Applications, Model Code of Conduct by Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Sh Sandeep Saxsena. Sh Saxsena also as State in-charge of Elections for Haryana briefed the officers on ground-level concerns of the State of Haryana. DEC Sh Chandra Bhushan as State in-charge of Maharashtra and one handling legal provisions at the Commission, briefed the Observers on details to be followed. DEC Sh Sudeep jain briefed the Observers on EVM-VVPAT protocols to be monitored. Detailed thematic presentations were made on Election planning, Observer’s roles and responsibilities, electoral roll issues, enforcement of Model Code of Conduct, legal provisions, EVM/VVPAT management, media engagement and the wide array of activities undertaken for voter facilitation under the Commission’s flagship SVEEP (Systematic Voter’s Education and Electoral Participation) programme. The Observers were also acquainted with the various IT initiatives and expenditure guidelines.
Using the Observers App, General, Police and Expenditure observers can submit their report securely to ECI to upload the relevant document from the mobile app. The Observers will get all important notifications, alerts, and urgent messages on this App while they are on duty. It will also facilitate observers to get their deployment status, download the ID card and update their profile. The Observers can make a written observation after the flying squads have investigated the matter. Observers are put on deputation with ECI for the entire duration of the Election Process till end of October 2019.