New Delhi: People under preventive detention have the right to vote, the Election Commission has said ahead of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, and warned that there should be "no ground" for any grievance due to non-compliance of the directive.
Against the backdrop of allegations that political activists and leaders are being detained by police ahead of elections, the EC has written to the Chief Secretaries of Maharashtra and Haryana, reminding them of Section 62 (5) of the Representation of the People Act and the Conduct of Election Rules that specify that those in preventive detention are entitled to cast their votes by post.
The letter referred to the provisions in the Conduct of Election Rules under which the administration has to intimate the Returning Officer of each constituency the names of electors under preventive detention, along with their addresses, electoral roll numbers so that postal ballots can be sent to them to facilitate them exercise their franchise in the elections.
"... Instructions may kindly be issued to the concerned authorities to ensure that provisions...Are strictly complied with at the general elections and there is no ground for any grievance on account of non-compliance of the provision of the said (Conduct of Election) rule," the EC has said.
Seeking to remove any ambiguity, it said in case the authorities are not aware of the address of the Returning Officer of a detainee's constituency, they should send the details to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).
In another letter issued to all CEOs, the EC has asked all state police chiefs to ensure that junior level police officials are not allowed to misuse power to deter a political activist to campaign for his or her leader or political party during elections.
It referred to a recent order of the Patna High Court which said that an official attached to a police station misused his powers to deter a person from campaigning in polls by threatening him with legal action.
It asked all DGPs and CEOs to ensure that no "indirect restrictions" are placed on campaigning during electioneering.
Assembly elections will be held in Maharashtra and Haryana in a single phase on October 15 and counting of votes will take place on October 19.