Ahead of the Assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, the Election Commission has directed governments of the two poll-bound states to ensure that people under preventive detention exercise their franchise through postal ballots during polls.
In a letter to the chief secretaries of the two states on September 18, the poll panel made it clear that people under preventive detention are entitled to cast their vote under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
“As per Rule 18 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, the electors under preventive detention are entitled to cast their votes by post,” the added.In its letter to the states, the EC sought ‘strict’ compliance of the rules during polls in Maharashtra and Haryana, scheduled to be held on October 15.
Referring to Rule 21(1) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, the EC suggested that it was the responsibility of the state governments to intimate to the returning officers about the names of the electors under preventive detention, their addresses, electoral roll numbers and places of detention “within fifteen days of calling an election.”
“This will enable the Returning Officers to send postal ballot papers to such electors to facilitate them to exercise their franchise at the election,” it underlined. In case the authority under whom any elector is under preventive detention is not aware of the address of the returning officer of the concerned parliamentary or assembly constituency, then he should send the details of such persons to the chief electoral officer of the state concerned.
“If any list of electors on preventive detention is received in the office of the chief electoral officer, the same may be communicated to the returning officers concerned without delay,” the poll panel also instructed the chief electoral officers (CEOs) of the two states. A total of 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra and 90 in Haryana will go to polls.