EC asks govt to ensure indelible ink at banks doesn’t affect polling

The election commission asked the government on Friday to stop using indelible ink to mark people coming to banks to exchange old currency that was recalled in a shock move last week.

black money crackdown Updated: Nov 18, 2016 18:02 IST
Dhrubo Jyoti
Dhrubo Jyoti
Hindustan Times
Demonetisation,Indelible ink,Rs 500 note
The election commission told the finance ministry that the decision to use indelible ink may interfere with the assembly polling process across several states early next year.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

The election commission has asked the government to ensure that the use of indelible ink in banks doesn’t “affect” the polling process in upcoming by-elections and assembly elections in several states.

Earlier this week, the government decided to use indelible ink to stop multiple exchanges of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes – which were withdrawn in an abrupt move last week.

Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das said the ink would be crucial in unclogging choked queues outside banks and ATMs. The ink is the same as used in polling booths to stop people from voting more than once.

Read: Indelible ink and cash flights to deal with India’s demonetisation blues

The letter from the election commission to the finance ministry detailed the rules regarding indelible ink for polling. It said the ink is usually put on the index finger of the left hand. If the person doesn’t have an index finger, then any other finger of the hand can be used -- in the absence of the left hand, the ink can be applied on any finger of the right hand.

“ln view of the current by-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 commission’s instructions in this regard should be duly taken into consideration,” the letter said.

Many people, including West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, have flayed the move, saying marking people with indelible ink may bar many people from voting in upcoming bypolls and elections.Five states are slated to go the polls next year.

On Wednesday, when the use of indelible ink began, most banks didn’t have stocks of the ink with them – except for the State Bank of India – and were forced to use permanent marker instead.

First Published: Nov 18, 2016 11:18 IST