The Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka Manoj Kumar Meena has said that there were over 50 per cent convictions in the cases related to the model code of conduct (MCC) violations in the state. According to an EC official, these convictions pertain to the elections that have taken place from 2013 to 2019.
Meena said the Election Commission (EC) closely follows the MCC violation cases, which made this happen. ”Karnataka is one of the states where the highest convictions have happened. Last time, 2,000-odd cases were booked. All were charge-sheeted, all were tried and I think more than 50 per cent of conviction we have done in Karnataka,” Meena told PTI in an interview. Explaining further, Meena said, ”Decisions have happened in all the cases but in more than 50 per cent cases, the convictions were in our favour. It is a big number. I don’t know about other states but it is very rare that in election-related cases convictions are happening.” Stating that Karnataka has done better, compared to other states, the CEO said the EC and his office follow the cases very closely. Giving details about the high conviction rate, Meena said the cases are booked meticulously, and people are imparted training on their handling. ”We train our people. The static squad teams and the flying squad teams have got magisterial powers. They have power to search and seize. We have told them how to search and how to seize, how to book a case, how to present before the court and how to take court’s permission,” the CEO said. Noting that huge cash, precious metals and freebies have been seized in the state ”like never before” during the ongoing Karnataka Assembly election process, Meena said the exercise started well in advance, almost four months prior to the election dates being announced, in the form of coordination with various agencies.
According to him, a Standard Operating Procedure was finalised due to which the infrastructure was already in place when the elections were declared. The officers on election duty started the vigilance activities almost immediately after the commission’s visit to the state, the CEO said. Since, everything was in place, the official machinery was able to do it in a more professional way and caught a huge amount of cash, gold, liquor and freebies. ”We are vigilant. Next 14 days will be very crucial for us. We are checking at our borders 100 per cent but we are keeping a watch on the internal movement. We are gathering intelligence at the local level also,” Meena said. He also said the commission is seeking and getting public support through its mobile application ‘cVIGIL’ where anyone can take a picture or share any information about any election-related malpractice. According to the data shared by Meena’s office, as on Thursday, seizures totalled Rs 292.06 crore since the model code of conduct came into effect on March 29, including Rs 102.9 crore cash, liquor worth Rs 68.69 crore and 149.31 kg gold worth Rs 76 crore. Speaking about hate speech, Meena said the commission is watching any such development closely and has booked five such cases. ”We are watching television, social media and even the newspapers also. We have a dedicated team at each level – at district as well as our level,” the CEO explained. ”We have a dedicated control room for watching the media 24×7. It is not so that after 9 pm we will not watch. We will watch full and give alerts. It is done at the level of the ECI (Election Commission of India) also,” he added. On the issue of tackling urban apathy during voting, he said various measures have been taken such as identifying the pockets where the voting percentage is low, holding meetings with the residents there and creating awareness among them. The Commission also relaunched ‘Chunavana’ mobile application, which will give details about the name, polling station, how to reach there and how many people are standing in the queue, Meena said. ”Every 15 minutes, the data will be updated in Chunavana app. So if you know your booth, if you enter your booth number and Assembly constituency in the application, it will tell you how many people are standing in the queue,” he explained. Due to the initiatives to encourage people to exercise their franchise, almost 16 lakh new voters have been added after January 5, it was stated.