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Anomalies in voters list to be probed

Special Correspondent

The Chief Election Commissioner assigns the task to ECI secretary Bernard John

Panaji: Pilerne Citizens' Forum (PCF), Goa-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), has expressed satisfaction over the immediate inquiry ordered by Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi into the anomalies in the voters lists of Goa. Mr. Quraishi visited Goa on Tuesday.

The NGO has been crusading over the serious inconsistencies in the procedure for enrolment of new voters and the procedure for seeking transfer of the names of voters from one constituency to another, or from one State to another by Goa Mamlatdars working as assistant electoral registration officers (AEROs).

Mr. Yatish A. Naik, Legal Adviser to the PCF, told The Hindu here on Wednesday that the PCF observed that the migrant and floating voters in Goa are on the rise some of whom even cast their votes in two different States. To check this problem, the PCF sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Election Commission of India (ECI), New Delhi. They sought to know what the procedure is that is being followed to enrol new voters and how the names of voters are being transferred from one constituency to another, or one State to another.

When members of the Pilerne Citizens' Forum tried to cross-check and ascertain the procedure adopted in Goa and sought the information under the RTI Act from all the 11 taluk AEROs, they found that there was inconsistencies in the replies they got about the procedure being adopted by them sometimes even contrary to the procedure laid down by the ECI.

Accordingly, the PCF members petitioned the CEC with all the collected documents. Upon prima facie being satisfied with the issue raised by the PCF, the CEC , vide a communication instructed the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Goa to conduct an inquiry and submit a report to him. Accordingly, the Joint Chief Electoral Officer, Goa submitted a report to the office of the CEC, New Delhi.

“To our shock, we observed that the CEO, Goa had admitted that the AEROs did not have the information required and even pleaded guilty,” Mr. Naik recalled.

The issue was then raised in the Legislative Assembly of Goa early last month by Deputy Leader of the Opposition Francisco D'Souza of the BJP and Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, while replying to it, once again admitted to the inconsistencies.

Refusing to give up, a delegation of the members of the Pilerne Citizens' Forum met the CEC Quraishi in Goa on Tuesday. Soon after they told Mr. Quraishi about their findings, the latter promptly ordered an inquiry and assigned the task to Mr. Bernard John, Secretary, ECI.

“We had a meeting with Mr. John in the Office of the CEO, Goa and explained to him the issue and upon hearing us, he has promised that necessary steps will be taken in the matter. We are confident of a positive outcome in this matter,” said Mr. Naik.

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