ECI gives major relief to migrant voters, abolishes cumbersome procedure of M Form

Postal ballot to continue through Form 12 C for all age groups

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, Apr 11: Giving a major relief to Kashmiri migrants, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has abolished the cumbersome procedure of M Forms for the displaced people from Valley for exercising their right to franchise.
The ECI in modification to its earlier orders has brought an ease of voting for Kashmiri migrants by dispensing with the requirement of M Form for Jammu and Udhampur. However, postal ballot through Form 12 C will continue for all those migrants whosoever wish to vote through postal ballot.
An ECI official today said that as part of Commission’s ongoing efforts to make the electoral participation more inclusive and hassle free for all sections of society, the Election Commission of India ordered suitable changes in the existing scheme of voting for Kashmiri migrants at special polling stations.
Under the new arrangement, the Kashmiri migrant electors who are in various camps/zones at Jammu and Udhampur shall no longer need to fill Form M, instead, they shall be mapped with the Special Polling Stations falling in the zones they are registered and residing, official said.

Follow the Daily Excelsior channel on WhatsApp

In addition to this, the Commission also eased the process of filing Form M by those migrants who are staying outside Jammu and Udhampur, i.e. Delhi and other places in the rest of the country, by allowing ‘self-attestation’ instead of the earlier required certification by Gazetted officers. However, they shall be required to fill Form M as earlier. It is mentionable fact that there are four Special Polling Stations for migrants as per past practice, official said.
The official said there is, however, no change in the Postal Ballot facility and the same continues to be as notified earlier. They (migrants intending to cast their vote through postal ballot) have to fill Form 12 C for seeking postal ballot. Form 12 C can be filled by any migrant, no matter where he is residing – at Jammu / Udhampur or Delhi, Mumbai, Noida or any other part of the country.
The official said the migrant irrespective of his / her age can cast his vote putting up at any part of the country be filling up Form 12 C. Even the migrants putting up at Jammu and Udhampur can also avail this facility, official added.
The amended arrangement envisaged the mapping of all 22 special polling stations (21 in Jammu and 1 in Udhampur) to the 21 Zones (20 in Jammu and 1 in Udhampur) individually, ensuring that every zone has at least one Special Polling Station, the official said. In case there are multiple polling stations in one zone, the zonal officers shall earmark the intra-zonal jurisdiction for each such Polling Station keeping in mind the distance/ease of approach for each set of electors, the official added.
He said during 2019 elections 17,000 M forms were filled up by Kashmiri migrants but less than seven percent turned out for casting their vote.

The migrants under the postal ballot can email Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner through e mail who can verify their postal ballot, the official said.
It may be recalled that Excelsior in its March 21 edition carried a detailed story under the title ‘No clarity on migrants voting even after issuance of notification for first phase’. The Excelsior in its story had highlighted that the cumbersome voting system adopted by ECI for migrant voters has over the years resulted in less percentage of voting.
The migrants for last three decades were demanding abolishing of M Form system as this amounted to denial of voting right to them. However, successive Governments did not take any action in this regard. This time again some KP leaders and social activists took up the issue with Election authorities here as well as New Delhi urging them that the M Form system be abolished to ensure that Kashmir migrants can smoothly take part in democratic process.
A delegation led by Ajay Bharti former MLC, Hira Lal Bhat a social activist and Chand Ji Bhat, who held two meetings with Chief Election Commissioner and Deputy Chief Election Commissioner respectively in New Delhi during last week made it clear to them that the procedure adopted by ECI is tantamount to denial of voting right to Kashmiri migrants.
The ECI on the basis of their constant pursuance discussed the issue with Chief Electoral Officer J&K and political parties and later modified its previous order on the basis of suggestions given by CEO and representatives of political parties.
Meanwhile, various KP leaders including Ajay Bharti, ex MLC, H L Bhat co convener BJP, Kashmir, M K Yogi senior KP leader and Sanjay Dhar representing Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP) have expressed their happiness over the decision of ECI and appealed migrants to participate in ensuing Lok Sabha elections enmass.