With Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh slated to go for assembly polls on November 19; the Election Commission (EC) on Friday expressed its concerns about use of indelible ink by banks in exchange for currency notes under the demonetisation rule.
In a letter to the Finance Ministry, the EC said: “It is informed that bye-elections from some parliamentary and Assembly constituencies are currently in progress, a poll for which is scheduled to be taken on 19.11.2016. As per the provisions of Rule 49K of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, the left forefinger of electors is required to be marked with indelible ink at the polling stations before the elector is allowed to vote.”
While Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are headed for assembly polls early next year, the Election Commission stated, “Sub-rule (4) of the said Rule 49K provides that in cases, where the elector does not have forefinger on the left hand, the ink is to be marked on any finger on his left hand, and if does not have any finger on his left hand, the ink is to be marked on his right forefinger. Extracts from the Handbook for Returning officers issued by the commission containing instructions in terms of the aforesaid Rule 49K are also enclosed for reference.”
“ln view of the current by-elections and upcoming elections to Legislative Assemblies of some of the states, it is requested that the above mentioned provisions of rules regarding application of indelible ink at elections and the commissions instructions in this regard should be duly taken into consideration in the context of the reported move to apply indelible ink in connection with demonetisation process so that the same does not affect the election process in any manner,” it added.
Many people, including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, have flayed the move, saying marking people with indelible ink may bar many people from voting in upcoming bypolls and elections. Five states are slated to go the polls next year.
On Wednesday, when the use of indelible ink began, most banks didn’t have stocks of the ink with them – except for the State Bank of India – and were forced to use permanent marker instead.