New Delhi, Sep 23: The Election Commission on Monday organised a briefing for observers to be deployed for elections to be held next month for the Haryana and Maharashtra legislative assemblies.
Around 500 officers drawn from IAS, IPS and also from Indian Revenue Service and few other Central Services attended the briefing meeting. These officers are being deployed as General, Police and Expenditure Observers.
The Commission had announced assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana on October 21 and bypolls in 66 assembly constituencies and one Parliamentary constituency.
Reminding the observers of their crucial role, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora emphasised on the conduct of elections in a transparent, participative and voter friendly manner, more so for persons with disabilities and senior citizens who need assistance, the Commission said in a release.
He stated that the observers should ensure strict compliance of Commission's rules and Standard Operating Procedures to be followed.
Mr Arora pointed out that the officers need to be extremely careful to ensure that no mistakes are committed and cautioned that even the most minor of mistakes at times spiral into avoidable news reporting.
He said the observers as Commission appointed nominees need to be vigilant, neutral and responsive in their approach to all stakeholders at field level.
Mr Arora noted that keeping in view specific requirements, the Commission has also appointed two Special Expenditure Observers for the state of Maharashtra viz Madhu Mahajan (ex IRS 1982) who, given her past experience in investigations wing of Income Tax department, was appointed Special Expenditure Observer for Tamil Nadu in recent Lok Sabha elections also and B Murali Kumar (ex IRS 1983) who was also appointed Special Expenditure Observer for Vellore Parliamentary Constituency during Lok Sabha Elections and had served as DGIT (Inv.), Chennai earlier.
Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa noted that Commission's procedures for the field level functionaries are well laid out.
"EC expects and depends a lot on the observers as the ground level officers also depend a lot on expert advice and impartial perspective of the observers so posted', Mr Lavasa added.
The Election Commissioner said the Commission has developed the observers' App and other tech-tools such as CVigil to aid the officers, though it is expected that the observers would be alert and discharge their duties faithfully at all times.
Addressing the group, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra drew the attention of the officers that as observers they have a crucial statutory duty to perform on behalf of Election Commission.
He exhorted the officers to observe all due details with respect to the smooth conduct of elections on the ground level - be it the assured minimum facilities at polling stations or the diligent following of laid down procedures of mock poll, etc for electronic voting machines or enforcement of expenditure guidelines and coordinated functioning among all agencies to take preventive measures to ensure free and fair elections.
He pointed out that the role of Expenditure Observers has become quite significant in current milieu.
"The observers should keep a keen eye on all key election functionaries at the field and should act as eyes and ears of the Commission", Mr Chandra added. (UNI)