Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Jammu and Kashmir, Shaleen Kabra today announced the schedule for conduct of Panchayat Elections in the State.
“The elections to 316 Blocks in 4483 Panchayat Halqas comprising of 35029 Panch Constituencies will be held from November 17 to December 11 in 9 phases,” Kabra said at a press conference here today.
He said the last Panchayat elections in the State were held in 2011 after a gap of 10 years and the Panchayats completed their term in July 2016.
CEO said with today’s announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) shall come into force with immediate effect and the same shall apply in all Panch constituencies going to polls as also for the candidates, the political parties and the Government.
Kabra said the elections will be held through ballot from 8 am to 2 pm. He said in view of the recent amendments making direct election to Sarpanch, the electors shall cast their votes for Panch as well as Sarpanch for which two separate colours of ballot papers will be used.
He said suitable number of Polling Stations have been notified for each Panch constituency of a Panchayat Halqa as determined by the District Panchayat Election Officer.
He said that the total number of Electors in the State is 5854208 who shall cast their vote in Panchayat Elections. He said that in Kashmir Division 2991128 voters are registered while as in Jammu Division 2863080 voters are registered.
Kabra said voter slips will be distributed to voters in Urdu and English language to make the voters aware about their respective polling stations. The voter identity cards will be compulsory for casting votes, he said.
He said General Observers shall be deployed to ensure free and fair elections. The Observers will be asked to keep a close watch on every stage of the electoral process, he said.
Kabra said a scheme has been devised to enable migrant Kashmiri Pandits to vote in Panchayat elections through Postal ballot.
He said that the notifications will be issued on 23rd, 26th, 29th October, 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th and 14th November, 2018 respectively.
Kabra said the last date for filing nominations for the nine phases will be 30th October, 2nd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 19th and 22nd November, 2018 respectively.
He added the date of scrutiny of nominations will be 31 October, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 17th, 20th and 24th November, 2018 respectively and the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be 2nd, 5th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 19th, 22nd and26th November, 2018.
The polling will be held on 17th, 20th, 24th, 27th and 29th November and 1st, 4th, 8th and 11th December, 2018. He said the counting of votes will be taken up on the same day unless notified otherwise followed by announcement of results. He said the process of election will be completed on 17th December.
CEO said comprehensive instructions for effective monitoring of the election expenditure of the candidates have already been issued. He said for greater transparency and for ease of monitoring of Election Expenses, candidates will be provided with ‘Expenditure Register’ on the day of nomination. He said Expenditure Observers are being appointed to keep close watch on election expenditure of the candidates. CEO said that expenditure limits have been fixed at Rs 20000 for Sarpanch and Rs 5000 for Panch.
“All candidates have to ensure that they maintain day-to-day expenditure record in the prescribed register, which will be supplied to the contesting candidate in the form of ‘Expenditure Register’ from the date of nomination to the date of declaration of result,” he said.
Kabra said all critical events will be video-graphed and concerned Deputy Commissioners will arrange sufficient number of video and digital cameras and camera teams for the purpose.