JAMMU In order to make the voting right of the Kashmiri migrants more effective and meaningful and also to address the numerous complaints of the migrant voters settled in various parts of the country, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has extended the existing scheme for the migrant voters with online facilities to make the system easy for voting from any part of the country.
The scheme devised for the purpose worked very well during the elections to the Legislative Assembly held in September-October, 2002 and the similar arrangements were made during General Elections to Lok-Sabha held in 2004, 2009 & 2014. Though the Rules do not expressly provide setting up of polling stations outside the territorial jurisdiction of the constituency, whereas, section 36-A of the Jammu & Kashmir Representation of People Act, 1957 makes provision of setting up of polling stations outside territorial jurisdiction of the constituency. The Commission, after taking into consideration the success of this scheme has decided to extend the said scheme for the general election to the House of the People from Jammu and Kashmir scheduled to be held in April-May, 2019.
In terms of Section 25 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the Kashmiri migrants whose names are registered in any of the three Parliamentary Constituencies in Kashmir province, as a group of voters are notified as ‘specified ‘voters for whom the polling stations may be provided outside the territorial limits of those constituencies, i.e., special polling stations at Delhi, Jammu and Udhampur.
Simultaneously, those of the, Kashmiri migrants who are living far away from the camps, etc., and wish to vote by post, have been separately notified as ‘notified voters’ in terms of Section 60(c) of the said Act read with rule 27A(b) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961.
For the General Elections to Lok Sabha-2019, the Election Commission has advised the migrant voters to send their Form-M for voting in person at any of Special Polling Stations or Form-12-C for using postal ballot to the concerned Assistant Returning Officers so as to reach them on or 10 days before the date of poll separately for each phase of the polling.
To operationalise this scheme, Assistant Commissioner, Revenue in the Office of Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner, Jammu is designated as Assistant Returning Officer for the three Parliamentary Constituencies in the Kashmir Valley. He is made responsible for the receipt of applications from the electors who wish to vote at the special polling stations and also from those who wish to vote by post. He is also made responsible for preparation of marked copies of electoral rolls for those polling stations, etc., and all other arrangements for the conduct of polls at these polling stations.
Likewise, Deputy Director, Horticulture, Planning & Marketing, Delhi is appointed as the ARO for the receipt of applications, conduct of poll, etc., at the special polling station(s) to be provided in Delhi. Collector, Northern Railways, Udhampur is appointed as ARO in respect of the special polling station(s) at Udhampur.
For the convenience of voters living in various camps in Jammu Division and Delhi, the Commission has approved the special polling stations for them in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi. At Jammu the Polling stations shall be set up at Women’s College, Gandhi Nagar, Government Engineering Collage, Canal Road, Directorate School Education, Muthi, Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Janipur, Jammu, Migrant School, Purkhoo, Agriculture Complex, Talab Tillo, Migrant School, Roop Nagar, Migrant School Nagrota, Govt. Higher Secondary School, (Migrants) Jagti-A, Govt. Higher Secondary School, (Migrants) Jagti-B, Panchayat Ghar, Barnai, Agriculture University Complex, Udhaiywala, J&K Board of School Education, Rehari, Govt. Middle School, (Migrants), Jagti, Community Hall Jagti, Govt. Girls Middle School Chak Changerwan Chinore Chowk, Govt. Girls Primary School Gangyal, Jammu, Govt. Boys Higher Secondary School Poni Chak, Govt. Boys Higher Secondary School, Sarwal, Govt. High School Sagoon, Miran Sahib, Govt. Higher Secondary School Channi and Old Municipality Town Hall at Udhampur.
In Delhi, J&K House, 5, Prithiviraj Road, office of the Deputy Director, Horticulture, Planning and Marketing Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, SDM office, Najafgarh and Arwachin International School, F-Block, Dilshad Garden, Delhi.
In so far as the Kashmiri Migrants living in other parts of the country are concerned, it may not be feasible to provide polling stations for them and they will have the option to exercise their franchise through the postal ballot system, as was done at the time of general elections in 1996, 1998 and 1999, 2002, 2008 and 2009 and 2014 and the arrangements made in this behalf, will have to be repeated.