Deletion probe report by August 31: Thomas

MADURAI, AUG. 21. The findings of the enquiry into large-scale deletion of names from electoral rolls during the recent Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu, along with suggestions for improving their accuracy, will be submitted to the Election Commission (EC) by August 31, P. J. Thomas, Kerala Chief Electoral Officer, and probe officer, told reporters here today.

Mr. Thomas said he had received about 80,000 complaints, including 3,947 from Madurai, of deletions. Several of them were true and some untrue. Nevertheless, with the assistance of officials, he verified each complaint. The officials made thorough enquiries and even made door-to-door surveys to ascertain the truth.

Discussions were held with the Collectors for verification of records. To a query, Mr. Thomas said the report would contain suggestions for rectifying the lapses and what should be done to avert such mistakes.

`Next generation cards'

Will the computer bar coding system or biometrics be recommended for use on the electronic photo identity cards as a foolproof mechanism? ``That should be the next generation cards,'' said Mr. Thomas. ``It is an expensive affair and other aspects such as casting votes from polling booths should be thought of. For the time being, the Kerala and Pondicherry model of bringing out photo electoral rolls would serve the purpose.''

Having a magnetic strip or a computer chip would enhance the effectiveness of the cards, he agreed and said 2000 proxy votes were registered during the recent elections.

The Madurai Collector, D. Raajendiran, who was present, said the complaints from the electorate were verified with the help of deputy tahsildars and revenue inspectors in rural areas and through bill collectors in the corporation areas. The election officers expressed satisfaction with the cooperation extended by the district administration, he said.

Earlier, Tapas Kumar, Secretary, EC; Rajesh Agarwal, Director, EC; Mr. Thomas, Raman and Swaminathan from the Tamil Nadu Election Commission Office, and Bragada, State Joint Chief Electoral Officer, held discussions with the Collector.