'Secret' checkposts for better vigilance on malpractices

'Secret' checkposts for better vigilance on malpractices

Surveillance points to shift daily; hard time for poll offenders

The Election Commission (EC) seems to be adopting ingenious methods to bring down the number of electoral malpractices during these elections.

It is mulling over moving away from the usual practice of setting up fixed checkposts.

They will set up what are called static surveillance teams (SSTs) at the district level, the locations of which will be changed everyday so that the parties and the candidates cannot hoodwink the officials.

The SSTs will keep an eye on transportation of money and other inducements to be distributed among voters.

The checkposts will be set up as per the directions of the EC in such a way that it not possible to predict their locations easily. The new system is aimed at effective implementation of the model code of conduct.

One of the officials in the SST will be designated as the special magistrate, who will decide the location of the checkposts. Three constables of the local police station will be part of the team. Such checkposts will be set up in 24 places across each district.

The SSTs will keep a watch on the transportation of suspicious materials, money, sarees, clothes or liquor (that may be distributed to woo voters).

The videographer attached to the team will film all the procedures under the supervision of the magistrate, who will enjoy powers equivalent to a tahsildar. The videographing is being undertaken for the first time in these elections.

The teams will reach the spot as soon as they get a complaint regarding malpractices. If the irregularities are proved with the help of the video, cases will be registered against the concerned.

The SSTs will also keep track of party rallies, conventions and roadshows. They will document the number of vehicles used for the rallies, the number of star campaigners and other details.

There will also be what is called a video viewing team. After looking at the clippings, the expenditure is estimated by the team and compared with info furnished by the candidates. If the two do not tally, notice is issued to the candidate.

Single affidavit

Candidates, this time, need not submit two affidavits (one declaring assets, the other about criminal background). The two informations can be submitted in a single affidavit.

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