2021-சட்டமன்ற தேர்தலை முன்னிட்டு, இந்திய தேர்தல் ஆணையம் நடத்திய கருத்து கேட்பு கூட்டத்தில், கழக அமைப்பு செயலாளர் திரு. R.S.பாரதி MP, தலைமைக் கழக சட்ட ஆலோசகர் திரு. N.R.இளங்கோ MP, தலைமைக் கழக வழக்கறிஞர்கள் வி.அருண், ஆர்.நீலகண்டன் மற்றும் கே.ஜே.சரவணன் ஆகியோர் திமுக சார்பில் பங்கேற்று, 11 அம்ச மனு வழங்கினர்.
1. The Chief Election Commissioner,
Election Commission of India,
2. The Chief Electoral Officer of Tamil Nadu,
Sub.: seeking timely response to our representation regarding the time bound election procedure for the forth coming General Election 2021 – reg.
Ref. : 1. Our representation to CEO, TN, dated 26.08.2020.
2. Our representation to CEO, TN, dated 18.11.2020
3. Letter of CEO, TN, dated 27.11.2020.
A. REQUEST TO RESOLVE THE ISSUES IN A TIME BOUND MANNER AND TO DIRECT CEO TO RESOLVE THE ISSUES WHICH ARE WITHIN HIS REMIT
1. On 26/08/2020, after considering the notification of the Election Commission dated 07/08/2020, we have submitted a detailed representation to the Chief Election Officer, Tamil Nadu. To our dismay, we have not received any response from the Commission till date.
2. Again, on receipt of information that 13.75 Lakhs ‘absentee voters’ in the category of 80 years senior citizens were enumerated in the draft electoral roll, on 18.11.2020, we have submitted a representation to seek the details of enumerated absentee voters. When the ECI enumerates the details of the absentee voters in the draft roll, as a recognized political party, we are entitled to have a list of “Absentee voters”.Surprisingly, we have received letter of CEO, TN dated 27.11.2020 stating that he has written a letter to ECI to seek permission/approval to comply with our request regarding the absentee voters. So far, we have not been supplied with the list.
3. The office of CEO, after receiving our representations, always replies that it has forwarded our representation to ECI and is awaiting orders. As the ECI is aware of the provisions of section 20 of the Representation of People’s Act 1951, that, subject to the superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission, the chief electoral officer of each State shall supervise the conduct of all elections in the State under this Act.The powers and duties of CEO have to be clearly demarcated and he should not merely act as a post office in respect of the representations given by the recognized political parties. As the entire election process is a time-bound exercise, we expect timely actions on our representations.
B. IDENTIFYING THE ABSENTEE VOTERS AND ENSURING THAT THERE IS A MECHANISM TO ELIMINATE MALPRACTICE IN POSTAL BALLOTS
1. We would like to draw your attention with regard to your notification dated 17.09.2020 formulating guidelines to implement provision of Postal Ballots to‘ABSENTEE VOTERS ‘viz., senior citizens more than 80 years old, Persons with Disability, Covid19 patients and Covid19 suspects for the forthcoming Tamil Nadu State Legislative Assembly General Election 2021.
2. The said guidelines lack any security mechanism. The guidelines are silent about ensuring that ballots safely reach the RO after they are collected from the voters by the ‘Polling Officer.”
3. The said Guidelines miserably fail to identify who are PwD voters and there are no fool proof guidelines as to who will be enumerated in the PwDcategory of absentee Voters.There is no transparency whether the CEO, TN or ECI have already enumerated the said absentee voters in the Draft Electoral Roll dated 16.11.2020
4. Likewise, there is no transparency in the guidelines and mechanism, is given in the said guidelines to identify the absentee voters in the category of Covid19 affected patients and Covid19 suspects. Assuming for a moment, if the polling staff approach any Covid19 patient to collect postal ballot, whether any precautions would be taken to avoid the spread of thevirus from the polling staff to the voter and vice -versa.
5. The guidelines are totally silent regarding the ‘Secrecy of Voting’ which is the essence of our democracy.
6. Hence, IN THE EVENT OF ECI implementing postal ballots for ‘ABSENTEE VOTERS’, we request you to issue fresh guidelines, in accordance with the well-established procedures and maintaining ‘Secrecy of Voting’.
a) Regarding Purification of Voters List:
(i) While carrying out the purification in the Voters List, advance intimation is not given to our party’s BLA-2s for field verification. Therefore, appropriate instructions shall be issued to all Booth Level Officers to give advance intimation to our party BLA-2s while taking decision on the claims and objection made during the period fixed for purification of voters list. No unauthorized persons shall be allowed to accompany BLOs or to participate in the process of verification of claims and objections for their disposal.
ii) As the last date for disposal of claims and objection is 05.01.2020, mandatory procedure shall be strictly followed by respective BLOs to ensure 100% correct voters list, which is the basis for fair elections.
iii) List of voters, who are entitled to ‘Postal Votes’ as per the new guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India shall be furnished to recognized political parties, while publishing final voters list.
v) In fine, in respect of final voters list, there shall not be any ‘Gerrymandering’ to take place affecting fair elections in the State of Tamil Nadu. (Either through creation of new booths or by omitting to include eligible voters or exclude ineligible voters).
(b) ‘First Level Checking’ of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) including Control Units, Polling Units and VVPATs and ‘Randomization of EVMs’.
i) In many Districts in the State, in a phased manner, First Level Checking of EVMs are being carried on by BEL/ECIL engineers. During the FLC, presence of District Election Officer is necessary. When there was an attempt to commence such an FLC in Tiruppur, without the presence of District Collector, our party’s representatives objected to it; then only, it was started in the presence of District Collector. Therefore, appropriate instructions shall be issued to the officials in charge of FLC to follow the guidelines.
ii) During First Level Checking and Randomization of EVMs, our party’s representatives shall be given liberty to cross check the EVMs and the procedure stipulated by the Commission in this regard shall be strictly followed without any deviation at all.
iii) Mock poll shall be conducted in full without any reduction in numbers of polling.
(c) Apprehension of ‘illegal access to the EVMs’:
i) There is an apprehension among the voters and political parties about ‘illegal access to the EVMs’. It is the duty of the Commission to eradicate such reasonable apprehension from their minds, by establishing with scientific proof, that there would not be any such illegality.
ii) High Force Jammer with radios of not less than 1000 mts shall be installed in all places such as Strong Rooms, Polling Centres and Counting Centres, to prevent illegal access to EVMs.
iii) The Commission shall secure the EVMs from tampering or manipulation of data and ensure that there shall not be any such illegality affecting fair elections, without giving place for even a single malpractice to occur.
(d) Appointment Returning Officers and Asst. Returning Officers:
i) The role of Returning Officers and Asst. Returning Officers is very vital in the electoral process. They shall be unbiased to ensure level playing field among the political parties, without yielding to the pressure and command of the parties in power.
ii) Due to covid19 pandemic, ECI has permitted counting postal votes in additional halls in the counting Centres, under the supervision of Asst. Returning Officers, for which additional AROs would be appointed.
iii) Therefore, fairness shall be strictly adhered to in the appointment Returning Officers and Asst. Returning Officers.
(e) Strict Compliance with ‘Model Code of Conduct’
i) Though the Model Code of Conduct would come into force only once the election is notified, election campaigns by almost all political parties have already commenced.
ii) As per MCC, no party or candidate shall induge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic. Compliance shall be ensured with this provision in respect of all communication whether, verbal, written, social media such as facebook, twitter, whatsapp or instagram, short message service (SMS) or in any other mode. Any such circulation in contravention of this provision in social media shall be dealt with by the commission in accordance with Law. If such circulation is not prohibited now itself, it would continue even after the Model Code of Conduct comes into effect. Therefore, appropriate guidelines shall be framed in this regard at the earliest.
iii) During the election Period, the Parties in Power (both in State and Central Government) and all political parties, individuals, associations, print and electronic media shall be instructed to strictly follow Model Code of Conduct.
(f) ‘Transfer of Officials’
i) The Election Commission of India issued an advisory on 18.12.2020 with regard to the ‘Transfer of Officials’ and it shall be strictly followed.
ii) Officials shall not be transferred to nearby areas. They shall be transferred to faraway Districts.
iii) Tahsildars and Revenue Divisional Officers shall be transferred, as per the advisory and they shall be posted outside the Districts in which they are presently working.
iv) In Police Department, there shall be Special DGP for Election work alone. Regular DGP shall not interfere with election work.
v) IGs and DIGs shall not be transferred to nearby zone from the place in which they are presently working.
(vi) SPs shall be transferred to faraway zone.
(g) Prevent ‘Cash for Vote’
i) It is reliably learnt that ruling AIADMK party has dumped a huge quantum of cash in many places of the State for distribution to the voters as ‘cash for votes.’ Therefore, surveillance shall be effectively done by Law enforcing agencies and the Income Tax Department without any bias.
ii) Standard Operating Procedure for Seizure of Cash shall be strictly followed.
iii) All Government vehicles including police vehicles, ambulances, private vehicles, courier and parcel service vehicles, public transportation, any type of private vehicles including two wheelers shall be thoroughly checked by flying squad and also, there shall be static surveillance in all conspicuous places in all Assembly Constituencies.
iv) Strict implementation of Surveillance to Prohibit cash flow in any mode, for distribution to voters and effective prevention of ‘Cash for Vote’ shall be ensured. The list of the officers and their contact numbers ,who are deputed to flying squads may be furnished to the recoganised political parties at the earliest.
(h) Establishment of ‘Postal Vote Centres’ and ‘Appointment of Polling Agents’
i) It is learnt that for casting postal votesby there would be ‘Postal vote Centres’ in the respective Assembly Constituencies and it would be opened for three days before the date of EVM poll. Guidelines in this regard shall be furnished.
ii) In such case, there shall be separate polling agents for each candidate, only for ‘Postal Vote Centre’. Therefore, procedure for this new arrangement shall be furnished, enabling the political parties to nominate agents for Postal Vote Centers.
(i) ‘New Procedure for Postal Votes’
i) Since the Election Commission has adopted ‘Postal Ballot’ system for Absentee Voters, this new procedure shall be sensitized to voters entitled to vote through Postal ballots. Guidelines shall be furnished to recognized Political Parties.
ii) The Commission shall ensure that there shall not be any tampering, manipulation or illegality in the entire process of postal votes. Though the exercise of franchise is a confidential one, the method of postal vote shall be transparent without allowing any malpractice, irregularity or illegality.
(j) ‘Prevention of unlawful activities’
i) Movements of History-sheeters and persons involved in poll related offences shall be strictly monitored through law-enforcing authorities to prevent electoral offences.
ii) At the same time, such powers of police officials shall not be abused or misused to prohibit the election campaign of the opposition party. This shall also be strictly monitored.
(k) ‘Counting of Votes polled in EVMs and Postal Votes’
i) Counting of Votes polled in EVMs and Postal Votes shall be strictly done in accordance with the Conduct of Election Rules 1960 and ECI Mandatory Guidelines.
ii) New procedure stipulated for Counting of Postal Votes shall be furnished to the political parties, in advance.
D. REQUEST FOR SINGLE PHASE POLL
From various informations we came to understand that ECI is contemplating to conduct TN State Assembly General Elections in phased manner. In the recent past, the elections to Tamil Nadu State Assembly General Elections were always conducted in single phase. To avoid any malpractices and misuse of official machinery, we request the ECI the elections 2021 in a single phase.
We request the ECI to consider this representation expeditiously andwith utmost expediency.