EC allows COVID 19 +Ve voters, RJD miffed ahead of Bihar polls

Last Modified Thursday, 9 July 2020 (18:36 IST)
New Delhi:The (RJD) on Tuesday wrote to the expressing its concern over the recent amendments in the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 saying such changes will work in the favour of the ruling coalition.
In a letter to the CEC, Rajya Sabha member Manoj Kumar Jha said, ''It has come to our notice that additional rules have been introduced in the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 unilaterally, without following due process of consultation with the political parties.''
''As a political party with the largest footprint in Bihar Assembly, we wish to place our  strong objection on the manner in which such hurried changes have been carried out and merely announced in the meeting in which we were invited," the RJD leader said. 
 
''We believe that any changes to established democratic procedures should take place  only after building broad consensus among all the stakeholders,'' he said.
 
''We are also apprehensive that such changes in the electoral process will work in the favour of  the ruling coalition, with monitoring and supervision powers under the current administration,'' the RJD leader said.
 
The RJD leader urged the poll panel to ''withdraw the changes immediately and call for an all-party consultation at the earliest to have an inclusive discussion on the challenges of conducting elections during the ongoing pandemic''.
 
In a decision ahead of Bihar Assembly polls, the Election Commission on July 2 had said the postal ballot facility has been extended for electors above age of 65 years and Covid+ve persons under home/institutional quarantined.
 
The changes announced by the Law ministry, after consultations with the ECI, have been 
brought through amending the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951.
 
The notification by the Law and Justice Ministry states that in the rule 27A, clause (aa) of the 
Conduct of Election Rules 1961, after the words "or persons with disability" occurring at the 
end, the words, letter and figures "or the COVID-19 suspect or affected persons" will be inserted.
 
In clause (e), for the figures and word "80 years", the figures and word "65 years" will be substituted.The notification said that after clause (e), a clause (f) shall be inserted which will read "suspect or affected persons" means the electors who are (i) tested as COVID 19 positive by the government hospital or the hospital recognised by the government as COVID hospital, or (ii) under home quarantine or institutional quarantine due to COVID 19, and certified by such competent authority, as may be notified by the state government or union territory administration.
 
The decision comes ahead of the Bihar Assembly polls, scheduled to be held in October-November.(UNI)