ECI announces Scheme for Kashmiri migrants to vote during LS polls | KNO

‘Offers online submission of Form-M, Form-12-C from any part of country’
ECI announces Scheme for Kashmiri migrants to vote during LS polls | KNO

Kashmir News Observer (KNO)

Jammu, March 26 (KNO): In order to make the voting right of the Kashmiri migrants more effective and meaningful and also to address the numerous complaints of the migrant voters settled in various parts of the country, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has extended the existing scheme for the migrant voters with online facilities to make the system easy for voting from any part of the country. The scheme devised for the purpose worked very well during the elections to the Legislative Assembly held in September-October, 2002 and the similar arrangements were made during General Elections to Lok-Sabha held in 2004, 2009 & 2014. Though the Rules do not expressly provide setting up of polling stations outside the territorial jurisdiction of the constituency, whereas, section 36-A of the Jammu & Kashmir Representation of People Act, 1957 makes provision of setting up of polling stations outside territorial jurisdiction of the constituency. The Commission, after taking into consideration the success of this scheme has decided to extend the said scheme for the general election to the House of the People from Jammu and Kashmir scheduled to be held in April-May, 2019. In terms of Section 25 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the Kashmiri migrants whose names are registered in any of the three Parliamentary Constituencies in Kashmir province, as a group of voters are notified as 'specified 'voters for whom the polling stations may be provided outside the territorial limits of those constituencies, i.e., special polling stations at Delhi, Jammu and Udhampur. Simultaneously, those of the, Kashmiri migrants who are living far away from the camps, etc., and wish to vote by post, have been separately notified as 'notified voters' in terms of Section 60(c) of the said Act read with rule 27A(b) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961. For the General Elections to Lok Sabha-2019, the Election Commission has advised the migrant voters to send their Form-M for voting in person at any of ‘Special Polling Stations’ or Form-12-C for using postal ballot to the concerned Assistant Returning Officers so as to reach them on or 10 days before the date of poll separately for each phase of the polling. To operationalise this scheme, Assistant Commissioner, Revenue in the Office of Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, Jammu is designated as Assistant Returning Officer for the three Parliamentary Constituencies in the Kashmir Valley. He is made responsible for the receipt of applications from the electors who wish to vote at the special polling stations and also from those who wish to vote by post. He is also made responsible for preparation of marked copies of electoral rolls for those polling stations, etc., and all other arrangements for the conduct of polls at these polling stations. Likewise, Deputy Director, Horticulture, Planning & Marketing, Delhi is appointed as the ARO for the receipt of applications, conduct of poll, etc., at the special polling station(s) to be provided in Delhi. Collector, Northern Railways, Udhampur is appointed as ARO in respect of the special polling station(s) at Udhampur. For the convenience of voters living in various camps in Jammu Division and Delhi, the Commission has approved the special polling stations for them in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi. At Jammu the Polling stations shall be set up at Women's College, Gandhi Nagar, Government Engineering Collage, Canal Road, Directorate School Education, Muthi, Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Janipur, Jammu, Migrant School, Purkhoo, Agriculture Complex, Talab Tillo, Migrant School, Roop Nagar, Migrant School Nagrota, Govt. Higher Secondary School, (Migrants) Jagti-A, Govt. Higher Secondary School, (Migrants) Jagti-B, Panchayat Ghar, Barnai, Agriculture University Complex, Udhaiywala, J&K Board of School Education, Rehari, Govt. Middle School, (Migrants), Jagti, Community Hall Jagti, Govt. Girls Middle School Chak Changerwan Chinore Chowk, Govt. Girls Primary School Gangyal, Jammu, Govt. Boys Higher Secondary School Poni Chak, Govt. Boys Higher Secondary School, Sarwal, Govt. High School Sagoon, Miran Sahib, Govt. Higher Secondary School Channi and Old Municipality Town Hall at Udhampur. In Delhi, J&K House, 5, Prithiviraj Road, office of the Deputy Director, Horticulture, Planning and Marketing Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, SDM office, Najafgarh and Arwachin International School, F-Block, Dilshad Garden, Delhi. In so far as the Kashmiri Migrants living in other parts of the country are concerned, it may not be feasible to provide polling stations for them and they will have the option to exercise their franchise through the postal ballot system, as was done at the time of general elections in 1996, 1998 and 1999, 2002, 2008 and 2009 and 2014 and the arrangements made in this behalf, will have to be repeated. In order to ascertain the specified voters who would like to vote at which of the above-mentioned polling stations, the ARO may ask the voters to give their preference in writing. As this information is to be collected for the purpose of allocating these voters to the above mentioned polling stations, it may suffice if the head of the family or any senior member of the family gives intimation in the members of his family and the authorities may not insist upon individual intimation from each elector. Though the right to vote is an individual right, the gathering of such information from the head of the family would not militate against the individual right as at the time of election, the voter concerned will have to exercise that right individually after satisfying the polling staff of his identity. This information may be obtained from the head/senior members of the families on a non-statutory form, called 'Form M'. Copies of this form will be distributed through the Relief Commissioner's office at Jammu and Resident Commissioner's office at Delhi and through the camp commandants of the migrant camps. The head/senior members of the families of specified voters can give the requisite information in Form M to the above-referred AROs at Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi immediately and atleast 10 days before the date of poll. To enable the applicants to give the requisite intimation in Form M by the stipulated date, copies of the electoral rolls of all three Parliamentary Constituencies shall be made available urgently at the offices of the above AROs for inspection by the intending applicants. The provision of the above mentioned special polling stations in the transitory camps, etc., would mean that the specified class of voters would be entitled to vote only at the specially provided polling stations and not in the polling stations normally provided for them in their native places in their respective constituencies. The polling at these special polling stations will be conducted by using separate EVMs for each PC as at the other normal polling stations in the constituency and all rules and directions and instructions applicable to the conduct of poll at the normal polling stations will apply at these special polling stations also. Any 'notified' voter who wishes to vote by post is required to make an application for postal ballot in Form 12C appended to the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 to any of the above AROs at least 10 days before the date of poll in the constituency in which he/she is registered as elector. The Returning Officers of the said 3 Parliamentary Constituencies shall make available well in advance, the electoral rolls of the parliamentary constituencies concerned in the offices of the above AROS to enable the 'notified' voters to fill in their required particulars in their applications in Form- 12C. These applications before submission are required to be verified and attested by the officers in charge of transitory camps or by any other gazetted officer. Sufficient number of gazetted officers shall be made available for the purpose in the offices of the aforementioned AROs. The ARO at Jammu, "Assistant Commissioner, Revenue" in the Office of Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, Jammu will be solely responsible for handling the applications in Form-12C received from 'notified' voters and for supply of postal ballot papers to them. For this purpose, all Returning Officers of three Parliamentary Constituencies shall make available to the ARO at Jammu sufficient number of ballot papers to be used as postal ballots. Deputy Director, Horticulture, Planning & Marketing, New Delhi and Collector, Northern Railways, Udhampur, shall make every endeavor to forward with least delay all applications in (Form-12C) received by them for postal ballot paper to the designated ARO at Jammu. They will also maintain a complete list of applications so received by them and forwarded to the ARO at Jammu. The designated ARO at Jammu, on being satisfied as to the entitlement of the applicant to vote by post, shall then be obliged to send the postal ballot paper to the applicant at least 8 days before the date of poll. The postal ballots and accompanying documents (Form 13-A, 13-B, 13-C and 13-D) shall be sent by the ARO at Jammu to 'notified' voters by registered post. Duly filled in Postal Ballot Papers should be sent by such voters through Registered Post (pre-paid by RO) to the Returning Officer of the Parliamentary Constituency concerned so as to reach him before the hour fixed for counting of votes. This will be the responsibility of the Postal Authorities for which the Commission will issue necessary instructions to the Postal Authorities. The 'notified' voters can also post their applications (Form-12C) for supply of postal ballots and, later on their marked postal ballot papers in the special letter boxes, which will be available at the offices of the abovementioned Assistant Returning Officers at Jammu, Delhi and Udhampur. The AROs at Delhi and Udhampur shall send the applications in Form-12C received by them to the ARO at Jammu for issue of postal ballots to the voters. Similarly, all three AROs at Jammu, Delhi and Udhampur shall send the marked postal ballots received by them in the aforesaid letter boxes to the Returning Officer concerned of the Parliamentary Constituency so as to reach the same before the date and hours fixed for counting of votes. In addition to the above instructions, the Migrant electors residing at various places other than Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi can also download Form -M and Form-12-C from the ECI website and after filling such Forms can be got verified from the Electoral Registration Officer of the areas where he/she is residing. The Electoral Registration Officers can have access to the details of migrant electors enrolled in different parliamentary Constituencies (assembly segment-wise) in Kashmir through ERO-Net. The ERO concerned, after verifying details in the Form ‘M’ will scan and upload to electronically transmit the same to AROs Migrants at Delhi, Jammu and Udhampur for further necessary action. Hard copy (s) so uploaded, are to be sent to AROs Migrant Delhi, Jammu and Udhampur as the case may be. Similarly, the ERO concerned will verify the details in Form 12-C and sign the certificate in Part-l of the Form and scan and upload it to electronically transmit the same to the ARO Migrant at Jammu, who will take further necessary action to send Postal Ballot to the elector concerned. Hard copies so uploaded are to be sent to ARO Migrant at Jammu. The Postal Ballot will be sent through Speed post to the elector concerned by the ARO Migrant, Jammu. The elector can send polled Postal Ballot through Speed post (free of cost) to the Returning Officer concerned of the Parliamentary constituency to which he/she belongs so that the same can reach the RO concerned in time. The cost of Speed Post will be paid by the RO concerned.(KNO)