HANDBOOKS


HANDBOOK FOR RETURNING OFFICERS


POLLING PERSONNEL

Form for appointment
Power to appoint polling personnel unilaterally
Women assistants

Form for appointment

10.1 The polling personnel should be formally appointed. The form for the appointment of Presiding and Polling Officers is given in Annexure IX. The Presiding and Polling Officers should be formally appointed both for the Assembly constituency and for the Parliamentary Constituency also in the case of a simultaneous election.

10.2 Appointment letters of presiding officers and polling officers should be issued as soon as polling parties are formed, but in their appointment letters number and name of polling station at which they will be on duty should not be indicated. Such information regarding place of duty should normally be intimated to them not repeat not earlier than three days before the date of poll. However, Chief Electoral Officers will have discretion to relax aforesaid three days time limit up to seven days where polling parties are despatched much in advance of the date of poll or where they feel that above information should be made available to the polling personnel earlier than three days having regard to the fact that polling personnel may have to furnish that information in their applications in Form 12A for election duty certificate. It may be pointed out that under rule 20(2) of Conduct of Elections Rules 1961 applications in Form 12A for election duty certificates should reach the Returning Officer four days or such shorter period as the returning officer may allow before the date of poll. It may also be relevant to point out that in the application in Form 12 for postal ballot paper the place of election duty is not required to be mentioned by the applicant. If appointment letters to presiding and polling officers are to be given prior to the above mentioned period from the date of poll, it may be done leaving the entries in column one of the Table appended to Annexure IX blank repeat blank. Particulars of polling stations may be intimated to the polling personnel subsequently in compliance with the Commission's above directions.

10.3 To obviate any delay or difficulty in issuing postal ballot papers or election duty certificate to voters drafted for election duty, you or as the case may be, the District Election Officer should issue to such voters the order of appointment in duplicate so that the voters on election duty may enclose one copy of that order of appointment to the Returning Officer along with his application form for supply of postal ballot paper/EDC, thereby facilitating the easy identification of the applicant and decision regarding his entitlement to the issue of postal ballot paper/EDC.

10.4 The order of appointment in duplicate should also bear the clear seal of the Returning Officer or the District Election Officer.

10.5 The above procedure in para 10.2 will however be applicable only at the time of a General Election and not at Bye-election.

10.6 Along with the letter of appointment of polling personnel, another communication should also be sent indicating therein that in order to facilitate the filling up of Forms 12 and 12-A by such person for the issue of postal ballot papers/Election Duty Certificates, the electoral rolls for all the Assembly constituencies in the District would be kept at the centre(s) for rehearsal/training classes and that they may fill up those forms and submit them then and there after fulfilling the other formalities.

10.7 A list of polling personnel in respect of all polling stations in your constituency should be displayed on your Notice Board at least two or three days before the day of poll. There is no need to supply such lists to the recognised political parties and contesting candidates.

Power to appoint polling personnel unilaterally

11. Doubts were expressed in many quarters (i) whether the District Election Officer, or, as the case may be, the Returning Officer can appoint under section 26 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a person as a Presiding Officer or a Polling Officer unilaterally against the will and consent of that person, and (ii) if so, whether the refusal to accept the appointment order by a person so appointed will attract, the provisions of section 134 of the said Act. In this connection, attention is drawn to the judgment, dated 6 March 1971 of the Calcutta High Court in Shri R.P. Roy, alias Rampada Roy Vs. Shri D. Rudra, District Election Officer and District Magistrate, Howrah (AIR 1971-Calcutta 461) which manifestly answers in the affirmative both the points referred to above. The Hon'ble Court has categorically held that section 26 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 confers not only the power to appoint unilaterally the Presiding and Polling Officers but also to impose on them all the obligations of such office irrespective of their consent, at the peril of prosecution under section 134 of the said Act in default. It seems that this principle will also apply to refusal to attend training classes as it is part of the obligation of such appointment as polling personnel.

Women assistants

12. At a polling station where there are considerable number of women voters, women assistants may be employed whenever practicable. Also, kindly see instructions on this point in para 2.4.


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