CEO, DEOs asked to call meetings separately, seek cooperation

EC lists measures to involve all political parties
Appoint BLAs for all Polling Stations
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, July 1: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jammu and Kashmir Hirdesh Kumar and all District Electoral Officers (DEOs) to call meetings of political parties separately and seek their cooperation.
The directive is part of the Election Commission’s post-delimitation exercises including Special Summary Revision ordered in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the conduct of Assembly elections. Yesterday, the Commission had directed publication of final Electoral Rolls of the Union Territory on October 31.
“The CEO and DEOs will separately call meetings of political parties and explain schedule and seek cooperation expected of them before the date of draft publication of Electoral rolls,” said the communiqué issued by the Election Commission.
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The Election Commission has designated all 20 Deputy Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir as the District Electoral Officers ahead of Special Summary Revision which is taking place after three years.
The Commission said the draft publication should be done on the approved date with due fanfare publicity and copies of draft rolls should be handed over to recognized political parties in public meeting.
“The CEO should write to all recognized national and State (UT) level political parties informing them the important points of law and procedures of the revision and seek their cooperation in the roll revenue exercise,” the letter read.
The Commission has asked the Electoral Returning Officers (EROs) to make available list of claims and objections to all political parties on weekly basis. It said the complete set of draft Electoral Rolls and Final Electoral Rolls immediately after draft and final publication respectively shall be supplied to recognized political parties.
The Election Commission, through the communiqué, has also asked the CEO to request all recognized political parties to identify and appoint Booth Level Agent for each Polling Stations who would be associated with the BLO during revision period.
“The BLOs will go through the draft Electoral Rolls with BLAs of recognized political parties. The BLAs once appointed from a recognized political party will continue as BLA unless their appointment is rescinded or revoked by the political party concerned,” the order said.
With a view to ensure more involvement of political parties, the Commission has allowed BLAs of recognized political parties to file applications in bulk, subject to the condition that BLAs shall not submit more than 10 forms to BLO at one time/in one day.
“If a BLA files more than 30 applications/forms during entire period of filing claims and objections, then the cross verification must be done by ERO/AERO themselves. Further, the BLA will also submit a list of application forms with a declaration that he has personally verified the particulars of the application forms and is satisfied that they are correct,” the order said.
The Election Commission has called for facilitating all stakeholders and bringing more transparency in the process of electoral registration, the practice of computerization and posting of all application forms on website of the CEO. The draft Electoral Rolls, final Electoral Rolls and lists of claims and objections will also be shared with recognized political parties, as per the communiqué.
“The CEO and DEOs will get revision schedule properly disseminated to political parties and social organizations among others,” it said.
In fact, it added, the list of claims and objections should be made available by EROs to all political parties on weekly basis. For this purpose, the ERO should call a meeting of all political parties on regular interval and personally handover list of claims and objections to them.
The Special Summary Revision, it may be mentioned, couldn’t be held in Jammu and Kashmir for last three years in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
It wasn’t conducted in 2019 due to August 5 decisions of the Central Government while in 2020 and 2021 it was deferred because of ongoing process of delimitation of Assembly constituencies.
With publication of Electoral Rolls on October 31, the Commission can hold Assembly elections in J&K either in November- December this year or March-April next year, if situation permits.
Conduct of elections is prerogative of the Election Commission but it has to take situation report from the Union Home Ministry and J&K Government in view of militancy.
The Commission can also depute its Independent Observers for assessment of the situation.