The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Panel warns lax officials

New Delhi, Jan. 18: The Election Commission today warned that negligent poll officials would be punished and violation of electoral rules would not be tolerated in Bengal.

The EC delivered the tough message after 19 observers who returned from the poll-bound state submitted their report to chief election commissioner B.B. Tandon.

The observers, including K.J. Rao, briefed Tandon and election commissioner Navin Chawla for more than three hours.

When the observers said many officials in the state were found negligent, the EC warned that non-adherence to its guidelines would not be tolerated and disciplinary action would be taken against non-performing personnel.

On the basis of the observers' report, the EC asked the chief electoral officer of Bengal to ensure that complaints received by district electoral officials or electoral registration officers are looked into.

It has asked the chief electoral officer to submit a compliance report by January 31.

The EC directed the chief electoral officer to remove from the rolls the names of voters who have shifted their residence and that of dead voters. The observers had found a large number of such cases.

An official said that the EC has iterated its instruction on disposal of all claims and objections regarding inclusion and deletion of names from the electoral rolls. The EC has extended the date for clearing such cases to January 24.

The observers were tight-lipped about the content of their reports.

Rao, who was the observer for Nadia, refused to comment on his report but said the EC had taken serious note of feedback given by the 19 observers.

In Calcutta, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas, who had criticised the election observers two days ago for being more interested 'in publicity than their job', today struck a different note.

He lauded the poll panel for warning negligent poll officials. 'I welcome the manner in which election officials have been warned by the EC for negligence of duties,' he said at the CPM headquarters.

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