ANI Photo | “Ensure level-playing field for free, fair and inducement-free elections”: CEC Rajiv Kumar directs poll observers

In the run-up to the forthcoming General Elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, the Election Commission of India on Monday organised a briefing for Observers to be deployed in the States and Union Territories.
Over 2150 senior officers drawn from IAS, IPS officers as well as officers from Indian Revenue Service and a few other Central Services attended the briefing
meeting which was organised in a hybrid mode at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
During the briefing, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar instructed the poll observers to ensure a level playing field for free, fair, intimidation and inducement-free elections.
CEC emphasised that the Observers as representatives of the Commission are expected to conduct themselves professionally and be accessible to all stakeholders including candidates.
“Observers were instructed to be tough but polite in their conduct on the field. He asked them to visit the polling stations and familiarise themselves with the geography and take stock of any vulnerabilities and sensitive areas,” an official statement issued by the Election Commission read.
Rajiv Kumar also mentioned that the Commission has re-drafted all circulars and updated the manuals, and handbooks which are available on the ECI website in a
searchable and easy-to-read format. He added that handbooks and manuals have been prepared on the basis of the roles and functions of different officials along with a checklist of Do’s and Don’ts.
During the briefing, the Observers were directed to be confined physically within the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituency they are allotted, during the entire electoral process. GPS tracking has been proposed to be fitted in their vehicle. They were also directed to widely publicise their mobile/ landline numbers/
email addresses/ places of stay etc. on CEO/ District websites; through electronic/ print media and the same must be circulated among Candidates/ recognised political parties by DEOs/ ROs on the day of arrival of Observers in their respective Constituencies.
“Observers were told to remain available on their phones/e-mails always and attend/ respond to the calls of Candidates, Political parties, the General public, personnel on election duties etc. Any complaints in this regard shall be viewed seriously by the Commission,” the apex poll body said in a statement.
“Observers were directed to do their mandatory duties honestly such as remaining fully witnessing and satisfied in the processes of deployment of forces,
the process of randomization, use of the Suvidha portal by political parties and ensuring level playing fields for all candidates/ political parties. They need
to come out of their comfort zones during the entire election process,” it added.
During the briefing, observers were informed that they should visit as many polling station locations and vulnerable areas; interact with people living in these areas and identify vulnerabilities/ criticalities of such areas and ensure measures to be taken to address them.
Election Commission further mentioned that during the 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, DECs and DGs.
“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,” it said.
On the occasion, the Observers were provided with a functional demonstration of EVMs and VVPATs and briefed about the multifarious technical security features, administrative protocols and procedural safeguards that surround the EVM ecosystem to make it completely secure, robust, reliable, tamper-proof and credible, the poll body said.
The Commission deploys Observers under Section 20B of the Representation of the People Act,1951 and plenary powers of the Constitution. The Observers are entrusted with the crucial and solemn responsibility of observance of the elections to ensure fairness, impartiality and credibility in the whole process.
Around 900 General Observers, 450 Police Observers and 800 Expenditure Observers are being deployed in the forthcoming elections

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