New Delhi: The Election Commission of India (ECI) today suspended S. Rangappa, Additional District Election Officer (ADEO), Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), (Central) in charge of 162 Shivajinagar and 169 Chickpet constituencies and K. Srinivas, Additional District Election Officer cum-Deputy Commissioner Bengaluru Urban, in charge of 174 Mahadevapura constituency and ordered a departmental enquiry against them in a case of collection of voter data by a private entity in the BBMP area. The ECI said that wrong ID cards identifying private individuals as Booth Level Officers were found in the above-mentioned three Assembly Constituencies. Three Electoral Registration Officers of BBMP of these three Constituencies have also been placed under suspension.
The ECI also issued directions to the Chief Secretary and the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Karnataka and directed a 100% check of the deletions and additions in electoral rolls in these three Assembly Constituencies. It extended the period of claims and objections under Special Summary Revision by 15 days till December 24, 2022,” to enable intense verification and affording a further opportunity to file claims and objections, if any in the three constituencies”.
Special Officers from outside the BBMP area will now be appointed for overseeing the “purity” of Electoral Rolls. The ECI directed all officials to ensure that there was no direct or indirect use of illegally collected documents or data. It further directed the CEO to ensure the involvement of recognised political parties at each step of the Special Summary Revision (SSR) activities and provide them with the Assembly Constituency-wise lists of all details that have been placed since the last final publication of the Electoral Roll as per the extant guidelines.
The CEO, Karnataka, was also directed to personally supervise and coordinate the measures being put in place.
Offering details, the ECI said on November 17, 2022, it received media reports regarding an NGO collecting voter data in Bengaluru city under the garb of voter awareness activities by way of house to house survey in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) area. The commission also received complaints from political parties regarding the same matter.
The ECI noted that a police investigation in the matter is going on in pursuance of two FIRs dated November 17, 2022, one in Kadugodi police station and another in Halasuru gate police station of Bengaluru, and subsequent actions including arrests have been made by the Police. An administrative enquiry by Regional Commissioner Bengaluru, Amlan Biswas has also been ordered. Biswas will also coordinate and supervise the review of the SSR work in the BBMP area. He was further empowered to depute any officer for assisting him in the said task with the approval of the CEO of Karnataka. He will also expedite the administrative enquiry assigned to him regarding the complaint of misuse of voter registration awareness activities and alleged data capture by the private entity in the BBMP area.
The electoral rolls are prepared and revised, subject to the overall superintendence, direction and control of the Election Commission of India under Article 324 of the Constitution, in accordance with the provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1950 and Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.
The ECI stated it has always been committed to conducting free, fair and inclusive elections, for which an error-free and updated electoral roll is a prerequisite. The electoral roll is updated through summary and continuous revision in a completely transparent and rule-based manner in which all stakeholders including political parties are kept informed of the status and process of revision. At every step of roll revision including addition, deletion and change in the address etc. there is a provision of mandatory disclosure and claims and objections.
The Election Commission stated it considers it of paramount importance that all roll revision-related booth-level activities are to be only done by Booth Level Officers who are drawn in accordance with Commission’s instructions from time to time. “The Commission has a zero-tolerance policy on deviation from this vital provision related to the Electoral Roll revision process,” the ECI stated.
– global bihari bureau