The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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EC's tardy tag on handcuff drive

New Delhi, Feb. 20: The Election Commission has found the progress of the execution of non-bailable warrants tardy in Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

Kerala and Pondicherry, which are also going to the polls in a few months, have been told to speed up the job as well.

The commission expressed its unhappiness with the states' performance during a meeting today to review their poll preparedness.

Chief election commissioner B.B. Tandon and commissioners N. Gopalaswami and Navin Chawla held separate meetings with the states' chief secretaries, police chiefs and other senior officials.

Chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb, home secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy, director-general of police S.C. Avasthy and Calcutta police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee attended the meeting from Bengal.

Deb, Avasthy and their counterparts from the three other states and Pondicherry were told to accelerate the execution of the arrest warrants.

The criticism has come just two days after the commission found fault with the revision of electoral rolls in Bengal.

On Friday, the poll panel directed the state government to take action against 19 officials for irregularities.

According to officials, there has been little progress in the implementation of the commission's directives regarding the deletion of names of dead voters and those who had shifted to other places.

The commission is also concerned over lax state government officials.

It had sent an observer to each of Bengal's 19 districts to oversee the weeding out of ghost voters in two phases. They reportedly expressed unhappiness with the work done.

Also apprehensive about the security situation, the commission has asked the police in all the states and Pondicherry to step up raids to unearth arms and ammunition.

The meeting reviewed the publication of electoral rolls, issuance of voters' photo identity cards, transfer of lax officials and law and order.

The commission urged the officials to ensure that the model code of conduct is enforced at the time of elections. They have also been asked to keep a close watch on the conduct of junior officials to ensure their impartiality.

No civil or police officer against whom any chargesheet has been filed in court or departmental action initiated for election-related misconduct should be associated with election work.

Poll observers

A Bengal election department official said in Calcutta today the poll panel is going to appoint a general observer for each of the 294 Assembly constituencies.

There would also be one expenditure observer for every three segments, raising the number of officers on the job to 392.

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