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New Delhi : The Election Commission of India(ECI) on September 23, 2019, organised a Briefing for Observers to be deployed for Elections to be held next month to the Haryana and Maharashtra Legislative Assemblies. Around 500 officers drawn from IAS, IPS officers as also from Indian Revenue Service and few other Central Services attended the briefing meeting. These officers are being deployed as General, Police, and Expenditure Observers.

Reminding the Observers of their crucial role, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora emphasised on the conduct of elections in a transparent, participative, and voter friendly manner, more so for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens who need assistance. He stated that the Observers should ensure strict compliance of ECI’s rules and Standard Operating Procedures to be followed.

Arora pointed out that the officers need to be extremely careful to ensure that no mistakes are committed. He cautioned that even the most minor of mistakes at times spiral into avoidable news reporting. He said the Observers as ECI appointed nominees need to be vigilant, neutral, and responsive in their approach to all stakeholders at field level, according to a PIB release.

Arora noted that keeping in view specific requirements, the Commission has also appointed two Special Expenditure Observers for the State of Maharashtra viz  Ms Madhu Mahajan (ex IRS 1982) who, given her past experience in Investigations Wing of Income Tax department, was appointed Special Expenditure Observer for Tamil Nadu in recent Lok Sabha elections also and  B Murali Kumar (ex IRS 1983) who was also appointed Special Expenditure Observer for-Vellore Parliamentary Constituency during Lok Sabha Elections and had served as DGIT(Inv.), Chennai, earlier.

Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa noted that ECI’s procedures for the field level functionaries are well laid out. “ECI expects and depends a lot on the Observers as the ground level officers also depend a lot on expert advice and impartial perspective of the Observers so posted,” Lavasa added. The Election Commissioner said the ECI has developed the Observers’ App and other tech-tools such as CVigil to aid the officers, though it is expected that the Observers would be alert and discharge their duties faithfully at all times.

Addressing the group, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra told the Officers that as Observers they have a crucial statutory duty to perform on behalf of Election Commission of India. He exhorted the officers to observe all due details with respect to smooth conduct of elections on the ground level – be it the Assured Minimum Facilities at Polling stations or the diligent following of laid down procedures of mock poll, etc for Electronic Voting Machines or enforcement of expenditure guidelines and coordinated functioning among all agencies to take preventive measures to ensure free and fair elections.

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