The Election Commission of India organized a Briefing Meeting for Observers to be deployed for the forthcoming NCT of Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections, for which schedule was announced on 6th January, 2020. Poll date for the single phased election for Delhi’s 70 constituencies is February 8, 2020 and Counting will be held on February 11, 2020. More than 150 officers drawn from IAS, IPS as also from Indian Revenue Service and other Central Services were called for the General, Police and Expenditure Observers briefing today. Adequate number of officers would be deployed on actual duty.
Addressing the Observers, Chief Election Commissioner Sh. Sunil Arora advised them to maintain close coordination with officers teams deputed in the field and to remain accessible at all times. Shri Arora particularly asked them to follow ECI’s guidelines with full sincerity and devotion and adhere to code of ethics with no laxity at all in performing assigned tasks. He asked the Observers to ensure due Assured Minimum Facilities at all the Polling booths. Despite the fact that infrastructure in national capital is better than many places in the hinterland, he asked the Observers to visit the Polling Booths to check due facilitation to senior citizens, Persons with Disabilities and women voters to ensure Commission’s commitment to principle of Inclusive Elections. He reiterated that ECI shall not tolerate any wilful lapses.
Election Commissioner Shri Ashok Lavasa emphasized the significance of role of Observers. Wherever critical interventions are required to ensure that no lapses, even of the smallest nature, cause disruption in the Electoral Process, Sh Lavasa said the officers should attend to it promptly. Familiarisation with laid down instructions and attention to specific details of additional facilities being initiated in Delhi Elections, such as Absentee Voter Facilitation to essential services categories, 80+ aged voters as also marked PwDs; QR code reader on Photo Voter Slips, would aid efficacy of Observers assigned the duty. He advised officers to be proactive to redress complaints and ensure impartiality while discharging their duties.
Speaking to the group, Election Commissioner Sh Sushil Chandra drew the attention of the Officers that as Observers they have a statutory duty to perform on behalf of Election Commission of India. He said the Officers so deputed, need to be neutral and impartial in discharge of their duties and be the actual face of ECI on the ground. He stated that the Observers should ensure strict compliance of ECI’s rules and Standard Operating Procedures like amenities at the polling booths, vulnerability mapping or compliance of Non-Bailable Warrants, deposition of licensed arms and strict compliance of expenditure management norms.
The half-day long briefing sessions held today had comprehensive briefing by the Secretary General ECI Shri Umesh Sinha on Election Planning, Security Management & SVEEP aspects; by the Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Shri Sandeep Saxena, who is also Delhi State in-charge at ECI, on Electoral Roll issues and IT applications; session on EVM VVPAT Management System by Deputy Election Commissioner Shri Sudeep Jain and on legal issues by Deputy Election Commissioner Shri Chandra Bhushan Kumar. Director Expenditure Sh Vikram Batra gave an overview of Expenditure Management issues and DG Communications Shri Dhirendra Ojha briefed the Officers on aspects of Paid News, Media Certification and Monitoring Committees as also Social Media.
It was particularly pointed out to the Observers that while in recent Jharkhand elections, Postal Ballot Facilitation for the Octogenarians and PwD voters was introduced on pilot basis, the optional facility of being able to cast vote from home would be extended across all 70 ACs of Delhi to voters above age of 80 years; marked PwDs as also to persons employed in essential services like Delhi Metro on-duty staff on polling day, Northern Railways Transportation s (Passenger and Freight ) services as also media persons for whom authority letters have been issued for covering poll-day activities in NCT of Delhi. IT applications like the Enabling Communication in Real-time Environment (ENCORE), an integrated portal to be used by Election Officers for overall management of aspects such as Candidate nominations, uploading of affidavits, Assigning symbol, Scrutiny of candidates nominations, Scrutiny of Candidate Permissions, Counting of Votes and Results dissemination etc. will be utilised for efficient and faster functioning. Other Apps to facilitate QR Code reading of Photo Voter Slips etc. would also be put in use in at least 11 ACs to ensure free, fair, peaceful, inclusive, accessible, ethical and participative election.