Every direction by EC will be followed during polls : Bombay High Court

The Nagpur collector-cum-returning officer Sunday assured the Bombay High Court that every direction and guideline issued by the Election Commission (EC) will be followed during the elections and post-poll arrangements.

The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court was hearing a petition filed by Nana Patole, Congress’ Nagpur Lok Sabha candidate.

Patole had filed the petition on Saturday, seeking, among other things, an order to the authorities to ensure that CCTV cameras installed outside two strongrooms in the city, where electronic voting machines are kept, function properly.

A division bench of justices R K Deshpande and S M Modak had sought a reply from the authorities concerned on Sunday.

The petitioner’s first grievance was that representatives of the candidate were not permitted to put 1,000 strokes on selected EVMs during a mock trial as per the guidelines of the Election Commission.

To this, Returning Officer Ashwin Mudgal told the court that it is the officer who would do this in the presence of the representatives of the candidate.

The court then specifically asked the returning officer as to who shall be permitted to put the 1,000 strokes on the EVMs. Mudgal replied that there should be no problem in permitting the representatives of all candidates to do so.

To another grievance that only one representative of each candidate is permitted to attend the mock trial of the EVMs, the returning officer replied that two representatives of each candidate are permitted to attend the trial. One more representative could be allowed as per discretion, he said.

Replying to a demand of making CCTV footage available, Mudgal said the cameras installed in the two strongrooms were functioning and surveillance was going on.

The CCTV cameras were inoperative for some time but everything is being video-graphed and a record is preserved and available, he said.

The returning officer assured the court that as far as possible, efforts would be made to meticulously comply with each and every direction or guideline of the Election Commission.

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