The role of Police in Pre-Poll, During Poll and Post-Poll: What ECI’s Handbook for Police Officers and RP Act 1951 says?

All the officers and personnel from State Police and CAPF deployed for election duties, shall be under superintendence, direction and control of the ECI till the completion of Election under section 28A of the Representation of People Act, 1951
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The Election Commission of India’s Handbook for Police Officers 2023 is a code of conduct for police officers and personals that are required to be planned and executed by the police during election. They include planning of district security plan, preventive measures, understanding the concepts of vulnerability mapping and critical polling stations, MCC, expenditure monitoring, roll of CAPFs, VIP security, special plan for LWE/Militancy affected areas, social media management, poll day management etc. The handbook enlists activities that are to be carried out to ensure a peaceful environment that is required for elections.

Specific measures for law and order shall be exercised by the police, prescribed by the ECI which inter-alia as follows:

  • Monitoring of past electoral offences
  • Preventive actions and measures
  • Monitoring the process of Vulnerability Mapping and assessment of critical polling stations and corrective measures to prevent intimidation, influence etc. 6 months prior to the elections.
  • Execution of non-bailable warrants in a time bound manner. (v) Launching of special drives for unearthing illegal arms, ammunition, explosives, drugs, unaccounted cash, illicit liquor and other contrabands.
  • Check on illegal transportation and storage of cash and other inducements.
  • Any other additional and enhanced measures to maintain and improve law and order.
  • Prepare and send consolidated reports in LOR-I format prescribed by the Election Commission of India, to State Home Department and consolidation of the reports in LORII for onward submission to the Chief Electoral Officer of the State for review and further submission to the Election Commission of India, from the day of announcement of elections till completion of elections process.
  • Preparation of phase-wise movement plan of forces and its monitoring. (Manual on force deployment – 2023).

Role of Police and MCC:

Model Code of Conduct comes into operation right from the time and day, the election schedule is announced by the Election Commission and remains in operation till completion of election process as per the election notification. In the case of a bye-election, Model Code will no longer be in operation as soon as the result of the bye-election is declared by the Returning officer. The provisions of Model Code of Conduct apply to all organisations/committees, corporations/ commissions etc, funded wholly or partially by the Central Govt. or any State Govt. Model Code of Conduct will apply to all candidates, political parties and the government of the said State.

For effective compliance of the MCC, the Election Commission bearing a repository power under section 28A of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951. Accordingly, All the officers and personnel from State Police and CAPF deployed for election duties, shall be under superintendence, direction and control of the ECI till the completion of Election.

Chapter 6 of the Handbook for Police Officers 2023 provide the Role of Police in Enforcing Model Code of Conduct.

The Role of Police in enforcing Model Code of Conduct[1]: –

Pre-Poll Measures:

The following actions may be undertaken during the pre-poll day:

  • Ensure that the security force has reached polling stations according to the force deployment plan.
  • Carry out effective and focused flag marches for area domination, point patrolling and other confidence building measures.
  • Formation of SSTs/FSTs/ QRTs etc. for surveillance purposes and carry out effective enforcement activities and take preventive action.
  • Ban on carrying of licensed arms shall continue to operate till declaration of results and no licence for arms shall be issued till elections are over.
  • Strict vigil shall be maintained by police, thorough checking of lorries, light vehicles and all other vehicles, preferably by setting up equipped check posts, from the day of announcement of elections to ensure that no undesirable elements or arms and ammunition are being transported into the constituency from outside and to apprehend them and take appropriate action under law if they are doing so.

Poll Day Measures (Law and order measures):

  • The DEO/SP shall brief the CAPF/ State Police about provisions of Section 131 of the R.P. Act, 1951. For this, there shall be proper coordination between the Presiding Officer and CAPF/State Police posted in a polling station.
  • No Election Booth of Candidates shall be set up within a radius of 200 metres from the Polling Station. Even where more than one Polling Station has been set up in the same Polling Station Location or premises, there shall be only one Election Booth of a candidate for such a group of Polling Stations beyond a distance of 200 metres from such premises.
  • No electioneering shall be allowed within the 200-metre area around the Polling Stations on the date of poll.
  • No person other than Observers appointed by the Commission and authorised election/ police officials shall be allowed to either carry or use mobile phones, wireless sets, etc., in the 100-metre perimeter of the Polling Stations described as the “Polling Station Neighbourhood” (Section 130 Representation of the People Act 1951) and within the Polling Station.
  • Possession of Arms near the Polling Station: The provisions of Section 134 B of the Representation of People Act, 1951 provides that, except those expressly permitted by that section, no one else carries any arms or indulges in show of arms in Polling Stations or “Polling Station Neighbourhood”. No person, even if a recipient of any form of security from any quarter, shall enter into any Polling Station or Polling Station Neighbourhood, accompanied by such security personnel.
  • Security Arrangements: Commissioner of Police/ Superintendent of Police shall deploy police forces, including CAPF, as per approved District Deployment Plan on static and mobile duties. All police forces, including CAPF, deployed for polling station security shall take positions in and control of the respective Polling Stations on the day prior to the poll day.
  • In case CAPF has not reached the assigned Polling Station, due to any reason, the poll shall not commence in that Polling Station.
  • At the polling station where CAPF personnel are deployed according to District Deployment Plan, one personnel of the CAPF deployed for the Polling Station shall be placed at the door of the Polling Station, either in static or oscillating mode, in order to observe the proceedings inside the Polling Station (Janak Singh V/s Ram Das Rai & Other in CA 9228 of 2003: SC). Moreover, the Company Commanders of CAPF shall also move for area domination and confidence building measure in the sectors assigned to them.
  • The State Police shall remain solely responsible for maintenance of the general law and order inside and outside of the Polling Station premises (as different from polling station.
  • State Police Force shall not replace the CAPFs at the Polling Stations, in contravention of the District Deployment Plan, under any circumstances. No officer of the local state police, with or without a contingent, shall position himself at the Polling Station and exercise any supervision and control over the CAPF at the Polling Station.

MCC general restrictions on Poll-Day:

  • One vehicle each for candidate, election agent and for candidate’s workers/ party workers be allowed and not more than 5 persons including driver are allowed in a vehicle. Carrying of voters by these vehicles is a Corrupt practice. It is also an electoral offence u/s 133 of the RP, Act, 1951.
  • Permits issued by DEO shall be displayed on the windscreen of vehicles.
  • Providing free conveyance to voters to and from the polling stations by a candidate/his agent is a corrupt practice and strictly forbidden. The offence may be booked under relevant provisions.
  • The aforementioned restrictions shall apply to all vehicles propelled by mechanical power or otherwise, including but not restricted to taxies, private cars, trucks, tractors with or without trailers, auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, scooters, motor bikes, mini buses, station wagons etc., also, and shall be made applicable for a period of 24 hours before the time fixed for closure of poll and till the completion of poll.
  • Penal action, both under the provisions of the R.P. Act, 1951 and the Indian Penal Code shall be taken against anyone offending the above directions, in addition to action under the Motor Vehicles Act. All vehicles being used in violation of these directions shall be confiscated.
  • Private vehicles may be used by the owners for their private use, not connected with elections;
  • Private vehicles being used by owners either for themselves or for members of their own family for going to the polling booth to exercise their franchise, but not going anywhere within a radius of 200 metres of a polling station;
  • Vehicles used for essential services namely hospital vans, ambulance, milk vans, water tankers, electricity emergency duty vans, police on duty, officers on election duty shall be allowed to ply.
  • Public transport carriages like buses shall ply between fixed terminals and on fixed routes
  • Taxis, three-wheeler scooters, rickshaws etc. For going to airports, railway stations, interstate bus stands, hospitals for journeys which cannot be avoided;
  • Private vehicles may be used by sick or disabled persons for their own use;
  • Vehicles being used by the Govt. officers on duty to reach their duty point shall be allowed to ply.
  • Cellular phones, cord less phone etc., not to be allowed except officers on duty in the 100 meters of a PS.
  • Voter slips to be plain white slips without name of candidate/ party markings/ symbol.
  • No campaign related posters or banners within100 meters of the Polling Booth.
  • During polling, PRO and other staff shall keep their mobile silent in the PS. If required they can talk from outside the polling booth.
  • Booth Level Officer to be stationed outside the polling booth at the Voter Assistance Booth (VAB). He shall keep with mobile phone switched on, along with the Alphabetical roll locator for the PS, near the polling stations.
  • Prohibition of loudspeakers, mega phones etc. and disorderly conduct – within 100 meters of a PS. Amplifying or reproducing the human voice by any apparatus not allowed within 100 mts of PS. Shouting or otherwise, acting in a disorderly manner is not allowed.
  • None except authorised security personnel can enter within 100 metres of any polling station. Security personnel attached to any person not to be allowed inside the polling booth. Exception to the above only in case of person covered under Z+ security which is one security person in simple clothes and with one concealed arms.

Post-Poll Measures:

Counting of votes is one of the most important stages of the election process. Therefore, great vigilance shall be exercised not only on the actual counting of votes but also in maintenance of Law and Order.

  • Generally, orders under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973(CrPC) are issued regarding ban on unlawful assemblies and prohibition on holding of public meetings during the day of counting, applicable for the areas/constituencies bound for polls.
  • This order is issued by the District Magistrate or any other competent authority effective from P-2 day to P+1 day within the Constituency. The restrictions under 144 CrPC Order do not permit more than 5 persons to assemble/move together in the area.
  • In view of the statutory provision contained in Section 135 C of the R.P. Act, 1951, ‘Dry Day’ shall be declared and notified under relevant state laws as is appropriate during the day of counting as indicated in the Commission’s notification.
  • Guarding of Strong rooms: There shall be a two-tier guarding system for strong rooms: First tier, which is the innermost perimeter, shall be guarded by CAPF. This shall be a 24×7 CAPF armed guard. Minimum one section of CAPF armed guard shall be on duty 24X7 in Strong Rooms in Non LWE areas. For this purpose, minimum one platoon of CAPF shall be provided to guard the Strong Room round the clock. In LWE/Militancy/Insurgency area, the strong room shall be manned by 1 platoon each in 3 shifts. Second tier shall be from the State SAP. Protocol to be followed to enter the inner perimeter: No one shall be allowed to enter the inner perimeter without following the protocol.
  • Security Arrangements in and Around Counting Centers: Three-tier cordoning system shall be set up in all counting premises to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons inside the counting premises.
  • Victory Procession post the declaration of results can be restricted/ regulated. Strong arrangements have to be made to ensure that people of varying factions don’t clash.

Considering the multiple actions required to be taken on different functional dimensions, it is imperative that the Law & Order functionaries at the State, district and constituency level are fully aware of the important activities and steps required to be undertaken during the critical Pre-poll, Poll and Post poll period and are thoroughly prepared to execute them as per the guidelines of the Election Commission of India.

ECI’s Handbook for Police Officers can be read here:

On October 25, 2007, The Election Commission of India issued a direction to the Chief Secretaries and Electoral Officer of the all States and UTs for deploys significant number of Central Paramilitary Forces into the election going State(s) on the basis of its assessment of the ground realities. The Local State Police (including all its variants) and Central Paramilitary Forces at the time of elections stand deputed to the Election Commission of India and they come under its superintendence and control for all purposes.

The directions of ECI dated 25.10.2007 can be read here

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions vide its order dated March 20, 2008 clarified the disciplinary jurisdiction of Election Commission of India over Government servants deputed for election duties in compliance with the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India’s Decision dated 21.09.2000, Election Commission of India vs. Union of India and Ors. (Writ Petition (C) No. 606 of 1993)

The order of Ministry dated 20.03.2008 can be read here:

However, under Article 324 of the Constitution, superintendence, direction and control of election vested in an Election Commission. For exercising these powers ECI and take over the state police and officers for a secure and peaceful environment, where citizens can exercise their democratic right to vote without interference or fear.

[1] Chapter-6, Pg, 53-59, Handbook for Police Officers 2023



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