Directive to form anti-defacement squads

The State Election Commission (SEC) has directed District Collectors to form anti-defacement squads to ensure that political parties and candidates engage in lawful electioneering activities for the upcoming local body polls.

In each district, one squad should be headed by an Assistant Collector or Sub Collector or a Deputy Collector who is not a returning officer. Another squad, at the taluk level, should be headed by a Tahsildar or an officer of gazetted rank.

The squads will examine the legality of notices, banners, boards, posters, poll graffiti, mike announcements, meetings and social media campaigns undertaken by the parties and candidates.

The squads will ensure compliance with the circular issued by the Commission on green protocol for the elections. The Commission has banned the use of plastic, PVC and other non-biodegradable materials in the election campaigns.

Unauthorised or illegal activities related to the campaigns will be immediately stopped. Unauthorised posters and boards will be removed, the Commission said.

The Commission has urged political parties and candidates to comply with the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and Kerala Municipality Act requirement that pamphlets and posters for the elections should mention the name of the printer and the publisher.

Private property, including buildings and walls, should be used for putting up banners, posters or poll graffiti only with the permission of the owner, the Commission said. Government buildings or compounds should not be used for the purpose.

Equal opportunity should be given to all candidates if public space is indeed used for putting up campaign materials.

The District Election Officer should ensure that no public space is cornered for this purpose by any one political party. Moreover, campaign materials such as boards and arches should not be placed in such a manner as to cause inconvenience to motorists and pedestrians. School grounds should not be used for election rallies or campaigns, the Commission said.

The Commission has issued guidelines, based on the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipality Act, regarding the eligibility of candidates for the upcoming polls.

Further, the Commission has also named general observers in all districts for ensuring free and fair elections. Orders have been issued in this regard, State Election Commissioner V. Bhaskaran said.

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