GUWAHATI, March 27 � The Election Commission of India has issued a series of guidelines including appointment of micro observers and use of video and still cameras in the polling stations to ensure free and fair polls.
In a directive issued to the Chief Electoral Officers of all the states, the EC said that considering the limited availability of Central armed police forces, the Commission decided that the critical polling stations should be covered by measures like micro observers, video camera, still camera, web casting etc., to keep a close watch on the polling process.
The EC directive pointed out that the allocation of force on the polling stations is done on the basis of sensitivity analysis. But even in the polling stations where central armed police personnel are posted, the measures suggested should be put in place to keep a watch on the poll process.
The directive said that employees of the Central Government or central public sector undertakings not below group C rank can be employed as micro observers. The District Election Officer would prepare a database of the employees of the Central Government and central PSUs in the district and the micro observers would be appointed from the list. Interestingly, the directive said that the micro observers would report directly to the election observers and not to the election officials.
The micro observers would have to reach the polling station at least one hour ahead of the start of the polls to assess the preparedness at the polling station and check the availability of the basic minimum facilities before the start of polling. They would have to watch the mock poll and ensure that the same is carried out as per the instructions of the EC. They would be given a format to record all important points during the poll process and it would be their job to observe that the process is carried out in free and fair manner. However, in no case, the micro observer would act as presiding or polling officer and their task would be to ensure that the poll is carried out in free and fair manner.
After the polling is over, the micro observers would submit detailed reports to the election observers in sealed envelopes. The reports of the micro observers would be taken into consideration while ordering re-polls, if necessary.
On the use of cameras, the EC directive said that video cameras should be used in as many polling stations as possible to record the proceedings. Still cameras should be used in the polling stations where video cameras cannot be used.
The District Election Officers should prepare an inventory of the video and still cameras available in the district and all video cameras available with the Government departments should be made available to the election officers. The election officers should also hire video and still cameras from the market if required and the videographers and photographers engaged by the election officials should not belong to any political party or they should not be known sympathizers or relatives of any candidate. The video cameras should be placed in such a manner that they can record the voters in the queue, the proceedings in the polling station, identification of the voters, application of the indelible ink etc. Incidents like attempts to intimidate any voter, bribing voters, canvassing within 100 metres of the polling station etc., should be recorded.
The recordings should be kept with the district election officers and the same can be given to the candidates on demand and to any other on payment of a fee.