Voter data collection: ECI suspends two senior election officers of Bengaluru

The Election Commission of India (ECI) Friday asked Karnataka chief secretary and the state’s Chief Electoral Officer to suspend the additional district election officer of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the additional district election officer cum-deputy commissioner of Bengaluru Urban in connection with the voter data collection case.

On November 17, the ECI received reports that an NGO, Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust, was collecting voter data in Bengaluru city in the garb of awareness activities through a house-to-house survey in BBMP areas.

The ECI order read, “S. Rangappa, Additional District Election Officer (ADEO), BBMP, (Central) in charge of 162 Shivajinagar and 169 Chickpet constituencies and K. Srinivas, Additional District Election Officer cum-Deputy Commissioner Bengaluru Urban, in charge of 174 Mahadevapura constituency are directed to be immediately placed under suspension and a departmental enquiry be instituted against them.”

The poll panel also directed 100 per cent check of the deletions and additions in the electoral rolls after January 1, 2022 in the three constituencies of Shivajinagar, Chickpet and Mahadevapura.

“The period of claims & objections under SSR (Special Summary Revision) is extended form 9.12.22 up to 24 th December, 2022 i.e. by 15 days to enable intense verification and affording further opportunity to file claims and objections, if any in the three constituencies of 162 Shivajinagar, 169 Chickpet & 174 Mahadevapura. List of all deletions and additions, which have been done in the electoral rolls after 1.1.2022 in the three Constituencies of 162 Shivajinagar, 169 Chickpet & 174 Mahadevapura, will be shared with the recognised political parties so as to enable them to file claims and objections,” the commission said.

It further ordered the appointment of special officers from outside BBMP for overseeing and ensuring purity of electoral rolls. “The following Officers, from outside the BBMP, are to be appointed as Special Officers for three Constituencies, for overseeing and ensuring purity of Electoral rolls as per extant guidelines and directions of the Commission – (a) Ms. Priyanka Mary Francis, IAS – For 162, Shivaji Nagar Assembly Constituency b. Dr. R. Vishal, IAS – For 169, Chickpet Assembly Constituency (c.) Mr. Ajay Nagbhushan, IAS – For 174, Mahadevapura,” the ECI said.

“The Roll Observers of BBMP area namely Ujjwal Ghosh (BBMP Central), Ramachandran R (BBMP North), P Rajendra Cholan (BBMP South) and Dr N Manjula (Bengaluru Urban) are directed to oversee the SSR work being undertaken in their assigned constituencies in the Assembly Constituencies in BBMP area other than the three Constituencies of 162 Shivajinagar, 169 Chickpet & 174 Mahadevapura,” the commission directed.

Meanwhile, Regional Commissioner, Bengaluru, Amlan Biswas, has been directed to coordinate and supervise review of the SSR work in the BBMP area and has been empowered to depute “any officer for assisting him in the said task with the approval of CEO, Karnataka”.

The ECI added, “The Regional commissioner Bengaluru, Mr. Amlan Biswas shall also expedite the administrative enquiry assigned to him regarding the complaint of misuse of voter registration awareness activities and alleged data capture by the private entity in BBMP area.”

“CEO Karnataka is directed to involve the recognised political party at each step of the SSR activities and provide them with the Assembly Constituency wise lists of all details that have been placed since the last final publication of the Electoral Roll as per the extant guidelines. CEO Karnataka is also directed to personally supervise and coordinate the above measures being put in place,” it said.

According to the ECI, “The commission also received complaints from political parties regarding the same matter. A police investigation in the matter is going on in pursuance of two FIRs…one in Kadugodi police station…and another in Halasuru gate police station and subsequent actions including arrests have been made by the Police.”

The commission added, “An administrative enquiry by Regional Commissioner Bengaluru, Amlan Biswas, has also been ordered. As per the report received, wrong ID cards identifying private individuals as BLOs/BLCs have been found in the three Constituencies namely 162 Shivajinagar, 169 Chickpet & 174 Mahadevapura. Three Electoral Registration Officers of BBMP of these three Constituencies have also been placed under suspension.”

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