Chawla rules out making voting compulsory

Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla at a symposium in Bangalore on Wednesday.  

Special Correspondent

Emphasis will be on sensitising voters

Code violation cases cannot be closed without EC nod

EC planning to act against paid news

Bangalore: Ruling out introducing compulsory voting in the country, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla on Wednesday said that it was not a practical idea as a large number of voters were from the unorganised sector and they should not be subjected to unnecessary problems, which has social dimensions.

Briefing presspersons on the outcome of the proceedings of the two-day conference of Chief Electoral Officers of southern States, here, Mr. Chawla, however, agreed that the issue needed a debate. He said that there was apathy among urban voters. Some employers in Maharashtra did not give leave to their employees to vote, he said and added that a few of his counterparts had opined that compulsory voting was impractical.

Accompanied by Election Commissioners S.M. Qureshi and V.S. Sampath, the CEC said instead emphasis would be laid on sensitising the voters. Rejecting the suggestion that the Commission should monitor registration of or deletion of names in the voters' list, Mr. Qureshi asked whether ration cards and driving licences were given at their doorsteps.

Mr. Chawla clarified that the EPICs would not be replaced by the cards issued under the Unique Identification Number scheme.

Fiat to officials

On the paid news/surrogate ads, he said the Press Council of India had held two sittings and the Commission also represented there. He said that the district election officers had been asked to be alert about complaints of paid news in future elections. The Commission might be able to issue guidelines after receiving the Council report.

The cases filed for violating the poll code could not be closed without the clearance from the Commission.

It may be recalled that several cases filed against politicians were withdrawn by the State Government recently. The EVMs, he said, were perfectly alright and the Commission was satisfied with the integrity of the machines and rigging was not possible as they could not be tampered with. Moreover, the polling has been totally transparent.

Asked about government funding election expenditure, he said that the Commission had held two meetings with the political parties and there was no consensus on the issue and government had no role to play in it.

Mr. Chawla said that the code of conduct was applicable to the Legislative Council elections also.