Wednesday, March 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SDM, 41 others chargesheeted
Enlisting of bogus votes
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Jalalabad, March 18
Forty-two officials of various departments, including a former SDM, have been chargesheeted by the state government on charges of enlisting bogus votes for the Municipal Council elections held recently.

Official sources said the officials had been chargesheeted after they were found guilty of enlisting bogus votes in the electoral rolls for extending favour to candidates of a particular party. The issue in this regard was raised a number of times before the State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, by the former president of the council, Mr Prem Valecha, and his associates.

The sources said the Commission, which got conducted a number of inquiries, also recommended the transfer of then SDM, Mr Sukhminder Singh, after detection of bogus votes. Mr Sukhminder Singh was entrusted the job of enlisting the voters during the revision of the rolls in his capacity as Electoral Registration Officer.

During the inquiries conducted by various officials of the Punjab Government, including two IAS officers, it was found that 2,000 votes were bogus and these were ultimately deleted. In addition to this, the commission had also received about 4,000 objections regarding the enlisting of certain voters in the revised rolls. The inquiries also revealed that a large number of complaints were true.

Apart from it, the commission had also come to know about large-scale irregularities committed by the SDM and field staff put on the job of electoral revision through the inquiry reports submitted by two IAS officers namely Mr Alok Shekhar and Mr Roshan Sunkaria.

The commission while ordering the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, to prepare the poll rolls afresh after cancelling the poll rolls published on November 29 also directed that no government official posted in this sub-division should be put on job. The fresh preparation started on January 1.

Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, when contacted, while confirming the fact that 42 officials had been chargesheeted, pointed out that now it was up to the higher authorities to place them under suspension or not.

He added that chargesheets had also been served on all these officials.

He said the administration had also given a reply regarding the chargesheeting of officials to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Meanwhile, a section of residents of this town have demanded that criminal cases should be registered against these officials as they (the officials) had denied them their right to exercise their franchise in the municipal council elections.

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