Fears of minorities that their names will be deleted from electoral rolls or that they will be prevented from casting their votes- ECI needs to take special measures

Election Vote



Shri Rajiv Kumar

Chief Election Commissioner

Election Commission of India (ECI)


Shri A C Pandey

Election Commissioner

Election Commission of India (ECI)


Shri Arun Goel

Election Commissioner

Election Commission of India (ECI)


Dear S/Shri Rajiv Kumar/ Pandey/ Goel,

In connection with the ensuing elections (both general elections/ by-polls) to State Assemblies in Karnataka, UP and other States, there have been reports of minorities fearing that their names could be deleted from the electoral rolls or that they may be coerced into not casting their votes. The ECI cannot afford to ignore their apprehensions. The Commission needs to go one extra step in allaying the fears of minorities.

This assumes considerable importance in the present context in which political parties are wantonly polarising society through hate speeches, misinformation campaigns and threats. While the computerisation of electoral rolls may have its merits, it also renders electoral rolls vulnerable to easy manipulation.

One usual practice followed in many States is to identify their favoured officers and post them to positions in which they could exercise direct/ indirect influence on elections.

For example, there have been reports on how both the UP government and the Central Ministry of Personnel went out of the way to extend the tenure of a Sikkim-cadre IAS officer on deputation to UP and retained him as Divisional Commissioner of  Moradabad Division where the by-poll for the Suar constituency is scheduled to take place shortly. The name of the officer concerned is Shri A K Singh, on deputation in UP since 2015, given annual extensions again and again. Apparently, the opposition in UP has represented that he should not be kept in charge of the Division where elections are about to take place, as they fear that his presence could prejudice the interests of the minorities.

The Consolidated Deputation Guidelines notified by the Department of Personnel clearly stipulate an upper limit of seven years, that too in exceptional cases, on such inter-cadre deputations, whereas Shri A K Singh has already completed 8 years and given yet another extension for one year (https://www.dailypioneer.com/2023/state-editions/sp-gearing-up-to-retain-suar-assembly-seat.html).

This is apparently a case of both the UP government and the Central Department of Personnel openly bending the rules to retain an IAS officer from a different State in Moradabad Division, despite protests from the opposition. This is all the more worrisome when there are fears that the names of voters belonging to minorities may be deleted and voters prevented from casting their votes.

Has the Election Commission kept silent on this, not taking any action, while both the UP government and the Department of Personnel had blatantly infringed the rules?

Has not the Commission looked closely at the background of each senior officer connected with the Suar by-poll and ordered his/her transfer if there are apprehensions?

If the Commission is totally unaware of what is happening in the State, which cannot be accepted as there have been numerous representations from the opposition, it should at least now immediately order the transfer of the officer concerned and institute an enquiry into how the Department of Personnel has violated its own guidelines. Have there been external pressures on that Department? These facts should be exposed and placed in the public domain.

The Commission should also quickly review the postings of senior officers in all other States, with special reference to ensuing elections and make changes if necessary.

On allegations of deletion of names of voters belonging to certain sections, the Commission should order a door-to-door verification to ascertain the factual position. I remember, in 2005, the Commission had deputed a senior officer, Shri K J Rao, to Bihar to make such a thorough verification, a process that won laurels for the Commission. Wherever there are fears expressed about the deletion of voters’ names, an independent outside team of persons with integrity should be deputed to make a quick verification to instil confidence among the voters.

Considering the fact that the independence of the Commission came under judicial scrutiny recently, the Commission should at least now set its house in order and take such action that will boost the morale of the minorities and reinforce the trust that the people repose in it.

I hope that the Commission will act on this without any hesitation and without yielding to extraneous pressures.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to the Government of India



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