The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Voter list scare for fugitives

Calcutta, Nov. 2: Prompted by the Narayan Biswas case and the questions spawned by it, Bengal's chief electoral officer Debashish Sen has sought instructions from the Election Commission (EC) on deletion of names of people's representatives from electoral rolls if they are 'not ordinarily resident' at their addresses for over six months.

'The EC has told us that people against whom non-bailable warrants haven't been executed in the last six months are deemed as not ordinarily resident during that period and hence their names should be deleted from the list. However, Section 20 (1A) of the Representation of People's Act, grants an exemption to MLAs and MPs during their tenure.'

'According to this section, MPs and MLAs will be deemed ordinarily resident even if they cannot stay in their constituencies during their tenure because of official work elsewhere. Hence, we need instructions from the EC on how to proceed in these cases,' Sen said.

If the name of Biswas, who has been evading arrest for 16 years, is removed from the electoral rolls on the pretext of being 'not ordinarily resident', he will be barred from contesting elections, officials said. Sen has also kicked off the process of sending notices to persons against whom warrants are pending for years. 'We have already sent notices to two to three per cent of the 72,000 persons (against whom warrants are pending) in the last three days. Our target is to cover a major portion of them by November 15,' he said.

The state's election department has initiated the process on the basis of a list of wanted persons supplied to it by police from across Bengal, Sen added.

Those against whom notices have been served will have to appear before the electoral registration officers within seven days of their receipt.

After former minister of state for cottage and small-scale industries Narayan Biswas surrendered at Balurghat and was remanded in jail custody, there has been a scramble among members of political parties, to pray for anticipatory bail in connection with pending cases.

Trinamul Congress legislator Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said he would seek anticipatory bail in a 1991 case in which he was allegedly involved in ransacking the office of the Baruipur block development officer in South 24 Parganas.

'For the last 14 years, I had no idea about the case. But I have discovered it in the wake of EC's directive concerning striking off names of those against whom cases are pending. I shall move the court soon after it reopens after the vacation,' Chattopadhyay, who hails from Baruipur, said.

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