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SRINAGAR, SEPT 29: Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shailendra Kumar, who is also Election Authority under Panchayati Raj Act 1989, on Sunday announced the schedule for the Block Development Council (BDC) Elections in J&K with polling on October 24.
Addressing a Press Conference, the CEO informed that the Election notification in this regard will be issued on October 1, 2019. The nominations would be filed up to October 9, 2019 and the scrutiny of nomination papers shall take place on October 10, 2019. Date of withdrawal of candidature has been fixed as October 11, 2019, and Elections shall be held on October 24. The entire election process shall be completed by November 5, 2019, said Mr. Shailendra during the presser which was also attended by media persons from Jammu division via video link.
He further informed that ballot boxes would be used during the elections of the chairpersons of the BDCs as the election shall be held through secret ballot.
Elaborating details, the CEO informed that the polling hours shall be from 9 am to 1 pm while the counting of votes shall be taken up on the day of poll from 3 pm onwards unless notified otherwise, followed by announcements of results the same day.
The CEO also announced that the provisions of Model Code of Conduct shall also come into force with immediate effect, adding all the provisions of MCC will apply to all the Panchayat Halqas (Rural Areas) and will be applicable to all the candidates, political parties and the State and Central Governments.
Kumar informed that the BDC elections shall be held on party lines and one block would be taken as one constituency and all the elected Panches and Sarpanches of Halqa Panchayats falling within the block would constitute the Electoral College for that block.
Giving further details, he said that out of 316 blocks in the State, there are two blocks where there are no elected Panches or Sarpanches besides, four Blocks reserved for women where there are no women candidates.
He further informed that Photo Electoral Rolls have been prepared by following the due process of appointing Electoral Registration Officers and Assistant Electoral Registration Officers for all blocks. The notification with regard to reservation of Sarpanch/Panch Constituencies for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Women as per provision of the Act and Rules governing Panchayat Elections have been issued by the competent authority i.e., Directors of Rural Development Department, J&K. There are reservations for women in ST and SC categories also with 21 reservations in ST and 7 in SC quota, said Mr. Shailendra.
It was also informed that there shall be one polling station for one Block Development Council, and accordingly, 310 polling stations have been setup in the State, one in each block where elections are being notified. In total there are 26629 electors, of which 8313 are females and 18316 male electros for 316 blocks across the 22 districts of J&K.
It was given out that the Election Authority has decided that compulsory identification of voters will be made in these elections through EPICs and list of alternative documents which can also be used for the purpose of identification by the electors who are yet to be provided EPICs. These alternate documents include Passport, Driving Licence, Bank /Post office passbooks with photographs, Income Tax Identity (PAN) Card, Aadhaar Card, Pension documents such as ex-servicemen’s pension payment order, Ex-Servicemen’s widow/Dependent certificates, Old Age pension order and Widow Pension order with photographs,” CEO added.
Regarding the transparency in election process, the CEO said that General Observers shall be deployed to ensure free and fair elections and they will be asked to keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process. “Their names, addresses within the district and their telephone numbers will be publicized,” he said.
He further said that comprehensive instructions for the purpose of effective monitoring of the election expenditure of the candidates have been issued. “For greater transparency and ease of monitoring of election expenses, candidates would be required to open a separate bank account and incur their election expenses from that very account. Control Rooms and Complaint Monitoring Centers at the District level shall be operative during the entire election process. The candidates have to ensure that they maintain day-to-day expenditure record in the prescribed register, which will be supplied to the contesting candidate in the form of ‘Expenditure Register’, from the date of nomination to the date of declaration of result. The Election Authority has fixed the limit of expenditure to be incurred by the Contesting Candidate as Rs 2 lakh. The General Observers shall function as Expenditure Observers as well”, he observed.
“All critical events will be videographed by the District Panchayat Election Officers (Deputy Commissioners), who will arrange sufficient numbers of video and digital camera teams for the purpose. The events for videography will include filing of nominations, scrutiny thereof and allotment of symbols, storage and distribution of Ballot Boxes, important public meetings, processions etc., during campaign, process of dispatching of postal ballot papers, polling process and counting of votes”, the presser was told.