INDIA VOTES 2024: 300 skip first poll rehearsal, put on notice in Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat : The Tribune India

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INDIA VOTES 2024: 300 skip first poll rehearsal, put on notice in Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat

DC-cum-DEO issues stern warning of initiating civil, criminal prosecution, disciplinary action

INDIA VOTES 2024: 300 skip first poll rehearsal, put on notice in Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat

DEO Sakshi Sawhney asks poll staff to discharge their duties with dedication in Ludhiana on Thursday.



Tribune News Service

Nitin Jain

Ludhiana, May 9

As many as 300 of the total 16,434 government staffers put on duty for the conduct of the June 1 General Election to the 18th Lok Sabha in the Ludhiana parliamentary constituency have skipped the first rehearsal held for the polling staff here recently.

TELLING NUMBERS

Total polling staff: 16,434

Absentees: 300

Rehearsals: May 19, 26, 31

Polling stations: 2,921

Assembly segments: 9

Taking serious note of the gross negligence amounting to breach of official duty in connection with the elections, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer (DEO) Sakshi Sawhney has issued stern warning to the absentee employees to either report to the poll duty latest by May 11, else civil and criminal prosecution proceedings, besides disciplinary action would be initiated against them.

The district administration has issued show-cause notices under Section 134 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to all the 300-odd absentee government employees to show cause why action should not be taken against them under the relevant law provisions for abstaining the poll duty.

The DC-cum-DEO told The Tribune here on Thursday that the absentees had been given the last opportunity to be present before their Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) concerned latest by May 11, failing which civil and criminal prosecution proceedings, besides the disciplinary action, would be initiated against them.

She has asked the poll staffers to discharge their duties with utmost dedication and sincerity to ensure the conduct of the entire elections in a free, fair, peaceful, smooth and transparent manner. “Polling staff should facilitate and ensure the voters to exercise their right to franchise in a fair manner on the polling day,” she asserted.

Giving examples of several remote areas in the country where polling staff and Election Commission of India (ECI) work hard for conducting the poll, Sakshi said the election duty was comparatively easy and smooth in Punjab where infrastructure and infrastructural developments facilitate the polling staff in performing the election duty efficaciously.

She added that all election staff was fortunate to be part of government machinery entrusted with the task of conducting the elections.

Pertinently, the first rehearsal for polling personnel being deployed at 2,921 polling stations in the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat was held at the level of all Assembly segments on Sunday.

A total of 16,434 officials were being deployed at the 2,921 polling booths. Each booth-level team, under the presiding officer, would consist of a five-member team, which would ensure smooth conduct of the polling at their assigned polling station on June 1.

The rehearsal was held under the supervision of the ARO concerned.

While the second rehearsal for the polling staff would be held on May 19, the third would be conducted on May 26 before holding the fourth and final training session on May 31 when polling parties would be dispatched for their respective polling stations/ locations to conduct the elections on June 1.

Issuing a stern warning against false and frivolous requests for seeking exemption from the election duty, the DEO has said the district administration would initiate stern action against all those found attempting to mislead the administration while seeking exemptions from the poll duty on fake grounds.

She said Section 159 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, mandates every appointed government employee to attend the training sessions/ rehearsals and perform their assigned election duty without any fail or negligence. “This legal provision ensures that all officials contribute to the smooth and fair conduct of the poll,” she reminded.

Sakshi emphasised that the exemptions from election duty should not be sought on frivolous or unsubstantiated grounds, which would be dealt sternly and strict action would be taken under the relevant sections of the Representation of People Act, 1951, besides the departmental disciplinary proceedings would be initiated against all those found attempting to avoid the election duty on misleading grounds.

“There might be some exceptions, who due to certain severe medical conditions or other genuine pressing reasons, are unable to perform the poll duty. To accommodate such cases, a medical board has been constituted to ensure screening of such applicants,” the DC-cum-DEO said while making it clear that legal proceedings would be initiated against all those found presenting or issuing fake medical certificates for seeking poll duty exemption.

She asserted that any sort of negligence on the part of poll staff to join duty would be dealt with sternly and appropriate action would be taken against the employees indulging in such malpractices. “Any reluctance on the part of the employees to join this national service will not be tolerated at any cost,” Sakshi said.

She said female employees were now entitled to perform their poll duty within the same constituency, alleviating logistical concerns and promoting their greater participation in the electoral process. “For any inquiries or assistance regarding duty assignments during the election, anyone can contact the authorities concerned in the district administration,” she said.

What law says…

Section 134 RP Act, 1951: Breach of official duty in connection with elections. Section 134 (1A) provides a penalty for the government servants for acting as polling agent, election agent or counting agent. Any person in government service indulging in such activities shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three months or with fine or with both. Section 159 mandates staff of certain authorities to be made available for the election works.

About The Author

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