ECI approves broad guidelines for conduct of by-elections

For the first time candidates will have the option to deposit a security amount for contesting the elections online.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has approved the broad guidelines for conduct of general or by-elections during COVID-19 period and for the first time candidates will have the option to deposit a security amount for contesting the elections online.

A release by ECI has stated that since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in India, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) have been issuing guidelines from time to time. In their latest circular dated July 29, MHA has issued comprehensive guidelines or directives to be followed countywide. Similarly, MoHFW has also issued SOP on disinfection, sanitization and prevention for containing COVID-19, it added.

Earlier, on July 17, ECI had sought suggestions of national and state political parties till July 31, and had further extended the period till August 11 on request of the political parties. The commission has considered the suggestions received from various political parties and chief electoral officers of the states/UTs on election campaigns and public meetings, said the release.

In the release, ECI has briefed the necessary guidelines, and it said that the commission has revised the norms of number of persons accompanying the candidate and number of vehicles at the time of nomination. It has also created an optional facility to fill the nomination form and the affidavit online and submission of the same, after taking print, before the RO concerned, it added.

It continued that for the first time, the candidates will have the option to deposit a security amount for contesting the elections online. Keeping the containment guidelines in view, ECI has limited the number of persons including candidates for door-to-door campaign to five. Public meeting and road shows shall be permissible with suitable instructions subject to containment instructions issued by the MHA or state, said the release.

It further stated that face mask, sanitizer, thermal scanners, gloves, face shield and PPE kits shall be used during the electoral process ensuring social distancing norms. Hand gloves shall be provided to all the electors for signing on the voter register and pressing button of EVM for voting, it added.

The chief electoral officers of the concerned states/UTs, shall make comprehensive state/district and AC election plans regarding arrangement and preventive measures following the guidelines taking local conditions into account. The plans will be prepared in consultation with the nodal officer for COVID-19 in their respective states/UTs, said the release

First Published:Aug. 21, 2020, 11:13 p.m.