“Number of code violation cases has come down”
PUDUCHERRY: The Election Commission (EC) has directed all State governments not to withdraw model code violation cases without the knowledge of EC, Chief Election Commissioner Navin B. Chawla said on Wednesday.
“In some States, we found that after the elections, cases registered for violating model code of conduct were withdrawn. A month ago, we wrote to all States directing them not to withdraw the cases without consulting the Commission,” Mr Chawla said while interacting with the press after addressing students of the Pondicherry University on the topic – Electoral Democracy in India.
Stating that the number of cases with respect to violation of model code of conduct had come down, he said the presence of large number of observers during campaigning had acted as a deterrent. “It also shows the evolution of the maturity of our political leaders.”
Besides creating more awareness among the public about the importance of voting, the EC planned to provide opportunity to more number of people to exercise their franchise. “We are in the process of giving the option for students staying in campus the right to vote for the local candidate. Those students staying in campus for more than 6 months can get a new card by retaining the old Electoral Photo Identity card. He will have the option of voting for the local candidate.” Similarly the Commission was planning to seek permission from the government to allow undertrials and convicts to exercise franchise.
On making voting a compulsory, Mr. Chawla said, “I would favour a debate in the Parliament on the issue. Let the Parliamentarians decide. However, I feel how it would be possible to implement it in a general election where 100 to 200 million people do not exercise their franchise. A whole lot of questions has to be answered such as the penal action against those not casting the vote.”
The practical way to get more people exercise their franchise was by way of creating awareness of their rights, he said adding that students and non-governmental organisations (NGO) had a bigger role to pay in this task.
He also appealed to NGOs to conduct social audit to find out “imperfections if any” on the introduction of ramps for physically challenged persons to cast vote. The Commission would offer all assistance to NGOs in conducting the exercise, he said adding that they would take suggestions positively.
In his address to the students of Pondicherry University, he said, “Students should become the brand ambassadors of the EC and propagate the need for exercising the franchise. He also called upon them to voluntarily take up the job of assisting block-level election officers.