Election Commission cautions govt against using indelible ink to mark out currency changers

The Election Commission (EC) is worried the use of indelible ink to mark out persons who have exchanged old, discarded currency once, will hit the election process as people come to vote with indelible ink marks on their fingertips. The EC has, in fact, written to the finance ministry not to use indelible ink in banks for marking people who have exchanged the old Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes once, says a report by news agency ANI.

In the letter, the EC is reported to have raised concerns that several states, including Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh slated to go to polls on 19 November, the EC has expressed its concern about use of indelible ink by banks in exchange for currency notes under the demonetization rule.

"It is informed that bye-elections from some parliamentary and Assembly constituencies are currently in progress, poll for which is scheduled to be taken on 19.11.2016. As per the provisions of Rule 49K of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, the left forefinger of electors is required to be marked with indelible ink at the polling stations before the elector is allowed to vote."

While Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are headed for assembly polls early next year, the Election Commission stated, "Sub-rule (4) of the said Rule 49K provides that in cases, where the elector does not have forefinger on the left hand, the ink is to be marked on any fingers on his left hand, and if does not have any finger on his left hand, the ink is to be marked on his right forefinger. Extracts from the Handbook for Returning officers issued by the commission containing instructions in terms of the aforesaid Rure 49K are also enclosed for reference."

"ln view of the current bye-elections and upcoming general elections to Legislative Assemblies of some of the states, it is requested that the above mentioned provisions of rules regarding application of indelible ink at elections and the commissions instructions in this regard should be duly taken into consideration in the context of the reported move to apply indelible ink in connection with demonetization process so that the same does not affect the election process in any manner," it added.

On Wednesday, those exchanging old notes to the tune of Rs4,500 over the counter were being marked with indelible ink to ensure that the same people do not queue up repeatedly as the government moves to stop money laundering and ensure that the lines at banks get a little shorter.

A notification to this effect was issued late on Tuesday. The government has also warned Jan Dhan Yojana account holders against allowing their accounts to be misused to launder scrapped Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes. It has come to notice of the government that in many places the same people are coming back again and again.