DMs Empowered to Seize Vehicles.
In significant measures aimed at giving level-playing field to political parties and Independent candidates in the District Development Council (DDC), Panchayats and Municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir, State Election Commission (SEC) has imposed ban on use of official vehicles including helicopters and cars for campaigning, electioneering and election related travel including by the Ministers of the Central Government.
However, the SEC and the CEO, in separate orders, have exempted the expenditure incurred on travel by the leaders of a political party for election campaigning from expenditure limit of the candidate.
An order issued by the Joint Chief Electoral Officer, Anil Salgotra said that there shall be total and absolute ban on use of official vehicles for campaigning, electioneering or election related travel including helicopters, aircrafts, car, jeeps, automobiles, boats, hovercrafts etc belonging to the Central Government, UT Administration and Public Sector Undertakings/Boards etc.
“The district administration will keep a close watch to find out if any official vehicle belonging to any Authority is being used for electioneering. In case it is being used, the District Magistrate will requisition such vehicles after following due procedure and will not release them till completion of election process,” the CEO’s order said.
He has further directed that cars/vehicles will not be allowed to move in convoys of more than five vehicles excluding the security vehicles.
“All bigger convoys will be broken up even if they are carrying any Minister of Central Government or any other person. This will, however, be subject to any security instructions issued in respect of such individuals,” the order read and said the vehicles moving in excess of the convoy will not be allowed to be used further by the local administration till the election process is completed.
As far as the star campaigners are concerned, the permission for mode of road transport will be issued centrally by the Chief Electoral Officer irrespective of whether the same vehicle is to be used by any leader for election campaigning throughout the Union Territory or different vehicles are to be used by such party leaders in different areas.
The permit will be issued against the name of the star campaigner.
“At the district level, on receipt of a request from a recognized political party, the Deputy Commissioner would issue permit for one vehicle to be used by the district level office bearer of a recognized party (other than the star campaigner) for their visit to multiple constituencies within the district for electioneering,” the order said.
Meanwhile, SEC KK Sharma has ordered that the expenditure on travel incurred by leaders of a political party for propagating programmes of that party will not be treated as expenditure incurred by the candidate of that political party for the purpose of Rs 5 lakh fixed for the candidates in the DDC elections.
CEO Hirdesh Kumar has also ordered that expenditure on travel incurred by leaders of political parties for by-elections to the Municipal Bodies for election campaign shall not be treated as expenditure in connection with the election incurred/authorized by a candidate of that political party for the purpose of prescribed expenditure limits.
The CEO has prescribed Rs 1.5 lakh limit for by-elections to Municipal Corporations, Rs 1 lakh for Municipal Councils and Rs 50,000 for Municipal Committees in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, in case of Municipal by-polls, the maximum number of political leaders has been capped at 20 for recognized political parties and 10 for registered unrecognized political parties.
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