Pune voter list file inspection shows deletion is done fraudulently!

A whopping 74 lakh names went missing from voters’ list in Maharashtra, out of which around 4.5 lakh are from Pune over the past two years. Moneylife explored the route of retracing how one voter’s name was deleted without follwing any norm. Was this done deliberately?

Missing names of voters in the voter list during elections is not new. What is new this time is the exceptionally large number of deleted names. In Pune for example, the names of about 4.24 lakh voters’ have been deleted between 2013 and 2014 as per the documents put up on its website, www.ceo.mah.gov.in. That accounts for 25% names which have been deleted, and allegedly replaced by other ones.



As per the Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act as well as the Representation of the People Act 1951, a citizen has the right to inspect documents in order to know the procedure that led to the deletion. Also specific procedure has been laid in the Representation of Peoples’ Act 1951.

When asked about the procedure in case the voter’s name has been deleted because he is shifted, Stella Paul, the election officer, who was checking out the documents of Sharad Phadke, which led to the deletion of his name, said, “the deletion process involves physical verification of the voter’s address, sending him or her a notice by physically pasting the notice on his front door; giving a public notice in the newspaper; seeking his suggestions and objections by conducting a hearing and if the person remains absent for the hearing, then the officer deletes the list.”



Quite clearly, the deletion route is not as simple as striking off a name in a jiffy.

Sharad Phadke and I, who had gone for inspection of files on Monday and Tuesday at the Mamledar Kacheri, that is the Tehsil’s office, which is the branch officer for the Election Commission for Kothrud Assembly Constituency. We asked for the following documents:



Copies of the pages of the electoral voters list of 2012 which had the name and photograph of Mr Phadke and the list of 2013 from where his name has been deleted

Copy of the note by the verification officer, stating that Phadke no more resides at the same address after physical verification by the election officer



Copy of the notice sent to Phadke which was allegedly pasted by the election staffer on his front door

Copy of the hearing in which it has been mentioned that Phadke remained absent for the hearing, with reference to the notice sent

Copy of the public notice published in a newspaper, calling for suggestions and objections from voters who have been claimed to have shifted residence by the Election Office,in which Phadke’s name has appeared.



After four long hours of waiting patiently all through Monday and Tuesday until 6pm, the officials procured copies of the electoral voting list of 2012 in which Mr Phadke’s name appears with a photograph; the 2013 list sees his and his wife’s name deleted while his son’s and daughter-in-law’s names are intact because of which they could vote on 17th April.

However, Mr Phadke states, “no copy of the notice was pasted on the door of my house and I did not get any intimation of the hearing. They have not asked my neighbor about my whereabouts in case they have asked them during their physical verification of my address. Why didn’t they put the notice in my postal box outside my house if I am not available?”



Also, what’s shocking is the copy of the hearing contains no reference to the notice, which they allegedly sent to Mr Phadke. Every copy of hearing has a reference number for the notice that has been issued earlier because of which hearing was called. From the time, we asked for the various documents, the officials kept saying that they are searching for the copy of the newspaper in which the public notice has been issued. At the end of Tuesday they said that the public notice was not published as it was deleted during a special campaign for deletion of names from the voters’ list. Where is the rule which says that? There were vague answers to this query.

RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar, who went through these documents says, “the copies of the documents show that no correct procedure was followed for the deletion of Mr Phadke’s name. In fact, the documents seem to have been 'created' for the justification of deleting his name.”

Another citizen, Girish Prabhu, whose name was deleted along with his mother’s had also put an application for inspection of files in the Kothrud Assembly’s election office, for documents, similar to what Mr Phadke has procured. The officers concerned have promised to give them but we have to follow it up.

In a couple of days, Mr Phadke would be filing a first informaiton report (FIR) with the police, which will be perhaps the first of its kind in the political history of India.

Phadke’s case is a indication that a huge conspiracy is behind the mass deletion of names and we are determined to follow up the issue. As per a Supreme Court judgement, the Election Registration Officer must go beyond the usually followed norms for re-election in case it is going to affect the electoral result. Irrespective of that, citizens of Pune who were over-enthusiastic to vote this time but could not due to some mysterious reasons of deletion of their names, must be given a chance.

Mr Kumbhar says, “Last week, I sent a letter to Election Commission of India asking them to communicate relevant information to voters. The Commission has put names of deleted voters from Maharashtra including Pune and it’s reasons on website. Though I had requested to put all the forms on website. Commission has only provided facility to search names of deleted persons. Voters can visit https://ceo.maharashtra.gov.in/ and search in “Deletion List PDFs Year [2013] Year [2014]” or Search Deletion List.'

In order to keep up the pressure, citizens are requested to file a complaint at the Election Office, 3rd floor, Old Zilla Parishad Office or Saraf Association office on Laxmi Road or Grahak Peth on Tilak Road. Citizens can get in touch with me on [email protected] if they would like to do file inspection for their name deletion.
 

Pune loksabha constituency, Total number of voters name deleted in 2013 -2014 is 4,23,952 ( four lakh twenty three thousand nine hundred and fifty two)

Total Number of voters names deleted in 2014 was 14.112 ( Fourteen thousand one hundred and twelwe )

https://ceo.maharashtra.gov.in/Search/SearchDeletedPDF2013.aspx


Assembly constituency wise data of Pune Lok Sabha Constituency


 

Sr No

Assembly constituency2013 deletion list2014 deletion list
1208 Vadgaon Sheri527995182
2209 Shivajinagar639861799
2210 Kothrud723753419
4212 Parvati64719776
5214 Pune cantonment725331661
6215 kasba peth834281275
Total 409840 


(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

Comments
jaideep shirali
8 years ago
It seems to me strange if not coincidental, that middle class voters find their names deleted, not slum dwellers, or the lower middle class. My father in law could not vote in Mumbai for the third election running, earlier it was the state election and the last general election. Either his name does not appear in the list, or the entire building is 'moved' to some other area, so he has had to search for his name every time through umpteen lists. This time, his wife, who stays with him, could vote, but not him, as his name was missing. How come persons staying in the same house for 20 years are 'moved' or their names deleted ? Another pertinent point is that if the Aadhar card, ration card, telephone bill, utility bills, etc. all carry the same correct address, how can the voter then be denied his vote because somebody chose to delete his name? To me, this smacks of mala fide intention on the part of the Maharashtra government.
Vishwas Gokhale
8 years ago
This is the job of our great magician.

The maratha warrior
Jagannath
8 years ago
Hi,

What can be total population in Pune. This figure seems to be surprising number of fraudulent with current voted figures.

Regards,
sunil
8 years ago
http://www.ceo.mah.gov.in/ is under construction?????????????
Vishwas Gokhale
8 years ago
There is absolutely no doubt about who did it.

It is the Maratha Chieftain who was openly advocating fraudulent voting by voting twice in on 2 diffrent days by wiping the voting mark overnight.

GV
sivasankaran
Replied to Vishwas Gokhale comment 8 years ago
what were the agents of the political parties in the polling station doing while such a large no of persons were impersonating and voting?they are not expecting to sleep in the booths.if they were not vigilant why blame the system man?
Adheer Pai
8 years ago
In Pune, the EC removed around 4.2 lakh voters and provided only 21 calendar days for correction and rectification of the voter rolls after they published the final rolls.

Assuming even half of the 4.2 lakh voters came back to the EC for rectification / adding their deleted names, the EC would have to process and rectify at least 12,000 entries per day.

It is physically impossible to handle this kind of workload for EC. Any sane person knows this is.

Were they even equipped to handle this workload ?

What is the maximum workload that the EC can process in day - this can perhaps be known through an RTI.

This is a prima facie case of incompetence, negligence, improper planning and perhaps conspiracy.
sivasankaran
8 years ago
SIR,
THE VIEW EXPRESSED BY MR.PINTO IS A BALANCED ONE.IT IS A FACT THAT NO BODY IS INTERESTED IN CHECKING HIS STATUS IN ELECTORAL ROLL BEFORE HAND.ON THE POLLING DAY THEY WAKE UP TO SEE THAT THEIR NAMES ARE DELETED HAD THEY CHECKED THEIR STATUS THEN& THERE THERE WAS TIME TO REMEDY IT.I FEEL THAT IT IS THE VOTER WHO HAS TO BE VIGILANT AND SEE THAT THEIR NAME IS INCLUDED IN THE LIST AT THE APPROPRIATE PLACE.DONT MAKE A HUE AND CRY UNNECESSARILY.
Abhijit Gosavi
Replied to sivasankaran comment 8 years ago
Sir,

Before you make sweeping statements, please take the trouble to determine what the facts are. There are many in Pune who did not find their names on the roll before the election (online etc. etc.) and went on to register complaints, but NOTHING happened. So please ... let's keep this rubbish argument that people didn't do their duty away from this.

Of course, Vinita-tai is right in raising a hue and cry about this --- if you want to call it that. I just wish more people joined her in what she's trying to do. I've done my bit --- have told people I know who couldn't vote to contact her.
Ravi Duggal
8 years ago
Post Script: I went to the polling booth where I had voted on the last occasion so that I could make some awaaz about the absence of my name from the voting list . Here I discovered that the part of the Assembly constituency for my residence area had been changed, so instead of 114 was 123 and went through the printed list and found our names all terribly mis-spelt and that was the reason why the online search was not yielding results. For my daughter her gender was marked as male - for this there was some discussion among the polling persons as to where to mark her because her id proof showed Female and the voter list male. The head of the booth was called and he said to mark it as male! My wife's name had the first two letters from the surname missing and mine and my daughter's first names were incorrectly spelled. Anyway our efforts at going to the poll booth paid dividends and we had the satisfaction of casting our vote. Incredible democracy!
Nagesh Kini
Replied to Ravi Duggal comment 8 years ago
Ambassador JK Galbraith rightly remarked that India is a functional anarchy. It is 'functional' aspect that enabled all of you to exercise your franchise despite the goof ups. Had it been otherwise there is no was you could have been allowed. There are in fact some, very few, balanced bureaucrats who take right decisions despite patent errors. Thank God for such people!
Ravi Duggal
8 years ago
I have had the same experience here i Mira Road (Thane Dist)There is evident clarity that there is administrative failure and lack of responsibility on their part. In my case I moved from Andheri to Mira Road in Sept 2009. I did my duty and cancelled my family's voter registration in Andheri and used that cancellation proof to register in the Mira Road constituency (Ovala Majiwada Assembly segment No. 146 of Thane dist). In 2012 August my family voted in the Corporation elections but couple of weeks back I went online to check the voter list and our names were missing. I checked the deleted list and there too our names were mot there. No one visited us and our names have been removed and we have been denied our right to vote. Clearly the EC Office is responsible. With increasing evidence of experience of lakhs of voters these elections become questionable about its representativeness and the courts must step in to demand accountability. Cant the EC administration show the same kind of eagerness to register people as is done by the Aadhar people who breathe down your necks or the polio dept people who religiously come to your place on the polio Sunday to identify eligible children. Kudos to Sharad Phadke and I too would like to join any such case being undertaken.
RUSHABH R SHAH
8 years ago
We are also victims of the same conspiracy. Total six names of our family members are deleted from voters' list for the reason known to government officers who have done this. I would also like to join others to lodge the complaint to the Election Commission. Please let me have the contact details of your colleague in Thane so that I can seek his help as I am very afraid of dealing with any govt. dept.
M P Pinto
8 years ago
In the plethora of adulatory messages you received for this article I must put forward the other side. If this is a huge conspiracy who is responsible? If you were in charge of updating the electoral roll and were determined to prevent some people from voting, how would you decide which name to strike off? Presumably names of those opposed to a particular party would be struck off and, since it is the ruling party that calls the shots, is it they who would decide which names should be axed. How would they know how Mr. Phadke, Mr Prabhu or any of the 74 lakh people whose names have been struck off would vote? Wouldn't they risk striking off the names of some of their own supporters? It would stretch credibility too far to assume that Big Brother knows exactly how 74 lakh people are going to vote and who should be stopped.

You must be congratulated for the painstaking work done in following up on the process for deletion of names. And your research does establish that the office was lax and may not have followed the procedure prescribed for deleting names. What a pity that the 74 lakh persons did not go to the Election office when the lists were publicly displayed (well before the election) and check if their names were on the lists or not. If they had displayed half the initiative and effort you have shown in the matter their names would probably have come right back on the roll.

Finally the last sentence in the first paragraph of your piece says that these names have allegedly been substituted by other names. Any evidence of this? If you do have any, this is where you can nail wrong doers. Including in the voters list names of people who do not reside in the constituency or have no right to vote is a truly serious offence and one which, if true, should not be difficult to establish. This is where investigation should concentrate instead of on minor infringements of the procedure for updating the voters list.

M P Pinto
PG Bhat
Replied to M P Pinto comment 8 years ago
I wrote mainly about the state of Bangalore rolls as mentioned in the introductory paragraphs. I have evidence for each of the points mentioned, and shared with CEO-KA and ECI over the past two years.
Abhijit Gosavi
Replied to M P Pinto comment 8 years ago
Sir,

Either you genuinely don't know how voter deletion is done or you are acting innocent. I sincerely hope it is the former. It is done on the basis of the last name, which in Maha often provides a clue regarding your caste. My own parents were able to vote because our last name is ambiguous. But my relatives with last names such as Bhagwat, Dandekar, and Sulakhe were not as lucky. With names like Phadke, Limaye, Datar, and Sane there is no ambiguity. In Kothrud, many people were not able to vote. It is a tragedy that caste is still a major factor in elections in many parts of India. Fantastic work by Vinita Deshmukh.
TIHARwale
Replied to M P Pinto comment 8 years ago
Pintoji you have done a good analysis and rightly pointed out that Vinita Deshmuk is without proof attributing motives for actual deletion of names by lower level staff of State Govt ( teachers)who would have done the exercise without actually visiting the voters residence. Yes the problem was many a voters never take seriously the advertisement put by EC in news papers on 3-4 months prior to any election wherein now thay provide a Mobile Number where just by sending SMS with details of EPIC card number which will be something like ABL0457290 and with in less than a second you get to know your name is there or not in the rolls and if yes it will inform you the Assembly consrituency and your polling booth location. In Delhi where voting took place on 10 April people even recd caeds issued as late as March 21. This implies EC had desire to ensure every eligible voter was provided with necessary support to exercise franchise.
RUSHABH R SHAH
Replied to TIHARwale comment 8 years ago
I had sent details of my Identity Cardissued by Election Commission of India through SMS to 9869889966 but I did not receive any reply.
TIHARwale
Replied to RUSHABH R SHAH comment 8 years ago
Unable to answer your valid grievance. In Delhi the number to check EPIC status is 9211728082 and it worked in my case and rather i was updated over SMS when EPIC was ready and it was delivered at home. So the entire process from my side was online.
Nilesh KAMERKAR
Replied to M P Pinto comment 8 years ago
The questions that need to be asked:

1) What could be the intended outcome of deleting names from voters list on such a massive scale?

2) How did so many names just disappear?

and & even more important question to be raised is

3) WHY?. . .(For whose benefit?)

If we think backwards i.e. most probable outcome of such large scale name deletion it becomes fairly obvious

And finally

4) About Lack of evidence: There's no evidence either which suggests 'No mischief'. And benefit of doubt must not be given to those, who have failed in protecting the fundamental right of citizens to vote.
NSriramamurty
Replied to Nilesh KAMERKAR comment 8 years ago
This Reflects only State Govt. Buereucrates Not giving DUE Importance to Voters List.
Nagesh Kini
Replied to Nilesh KAMERKAR comment 8 years ago
Only a PIL at the Supreme Court !
PG Bhat
8 years ago
Soon the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)of Maharashtra will get President of India award - latest by 25 Jan 2015, the National Voters Day.

CEOs of Delhi and Karnataka got such awards this year for all the malpractices in their Electoral Roll Management System this year. You can see a smug CEO and smiling CEC at the home page of Delhi CEO.
Nagesh Kini
8 years ago
Vinita
This is a fit case to get the entire election process stayed by the Supreme Court on grounds of blatant and proven fraud. There's enough evidence with you.
Only a dedicated pro bono senior counsel to argue its admission as an urgent matter.
Nagesh Kini
8 years ago
Vinita
This is a fit case to get the entire election process stayed by the Supreme Court on grounds of blatant and proven fraud. There's enough evidence with you.
Only a dedicated pro bono senior counsel to argue its admission as an urgent matter.
NSriramamurty
8 years ago
In AP , Earlier Reported that Names are Added / Deleted as Per Political Parties List Given , Obviously without Following Stipulated Procedure.
This is Serious Menace in India. CEO should Take Action on Such Concerned Officers and Staff .NO Such Action Taken Was Repored so Far. CEOs Must Concentrate in This Menace , Without Escaping Telling that List Preperation is State Govt. and its MUncipalty's Job and CEOs Go as Per that List.
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