JEHANGIR ALI | 11 MAY, 2019
Soldiers Asked for Voting Choice on Phone, Instead of Secret Ballot
Ladakh DC writes to Election Commission
SRINAGAR: The Ladakh Deputy Commissioner has written to the Army of a complaint received of “malpractices on the past of various commanding officers of the Indian Army in the electronic postal ballot system.”
The DC, District Election Officer, Leh Avny Lavasa, IAS has stated, “It is alleged that the commanding officers are telephonically asking jawans for their voting preference rather than supplying to them the ballot paper for casting his (their) vote.”
The letter to the Central Officer Commanding, 14 Corps, points out that this is “gross violation of secrecy of voting and a malpractice that has the potential to invite strict legal action.”
The Deputy Commissioner has referred to a complaint been received from a contesting candidate for Ladakh that there is “malpractice on part of various commanding officers of the Indian Army in the postal ballot system.”
The DC has said that, “in this context, it is requested that all the concerned officers may be sensitized about the issue and the sanctity of election process maintained.” Lavasa’s father is Election Commissioner in Delhi.
However, a Defence Ministry spokesman, while denying the allegations, said preliminary investigations show the “complaints are unfounded and appear to have been made to tarnish the image of Army.”
The spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said: “In depth investigation is on to ascertain the details in the most impartial manner. Army remains apolitical and we hold this core value in letter and spirit.”
Col Kalia said some “political candidates appear to have complained regarding postal ballot process to be cast by service personnel.” He added, “no specific instances have been mentioned in the complaints.”
However, sources in the administration said the matter has been raised with the top administration of the Army.
“We are investigating whether this practice was followed in other parts of the state as well. If confirmed, action will be taken against the violators,” a senior government official said, adding that the details of the incident have been shared with the Army.