There are only a few months left for the 2019 general elections. Once complete, the process will lead to the formation of the 17th Lok Sabha.
Additionally, the Legislative Assembly elections of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Jammu and Kashmir are also expected to take place, concurrently.
It is no secret that political parties engage in varying levels of malpractices—like offering money, gifts, and jobs—and repeatedly violate the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) to win public support during the elections.
At this time, the onus is on the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure a free and fair electoral process.
However, doing so, while braving political hooliganism is a difficult task. Also, there is a structural lack in our system that does not allow one to fearlessly approach the ECI with proof and report any malpractice.
But what if there was a provision that allowed one to do this, with the assurance that the culprits would be held immediately?
One could argue that this might give an opportunity for members of political parties to sabotage their opponents by making false complaints.
But imagine the scope of a system that would allow common citizens to engage in the election process through anonymity and also help the ECI in the process.
This is precisely what the ECI intends to achieve through the cVIGIL mobile app.
cVIGIL stands for Vigilant Citizen.
Developed by the ECI to highlight the proactive and responsible role citizens can play in the conduct of free and fair elections, the app offers its users a fast-track complaint reception and redressal option.
The need to launch such an app arose because of many gaps in the system. There have been instances where the ECI has rejected reports detailing election malpractices and MCC violations, due to the lack of credible evidence.
Also, no response system could quickly and accurately identify the scene of occurrence to a geographical location. This ended up hampering election officers’ ability to reach the spot on time to apprehend the violators.
How exactly does the app work?
To begin with, you need to have an Android smartphone (compatible with Jellybean and above operating systems) with a camera, internet connection, and GPS access.
It is important to note that the app can be used only in the states where elections are being held. A user gets 5 minutes to report an incident after having clicked a picture or a video.
It directly connects a user with the District Control Room, Returning Officer, and Field Unit (Flying Squads)/ Static Surveillance Teams, thereby, creating a rapid and accurate reporting, action and monitoring system.
The app also has some provisions to prevent misuse.
The photos and videos are clicked through the app, and they cannot be saved in the phone gallery. It also does not allow pre-recorded images or videos to be uploaded.
To avoid constant complaints from the same spot, the system forces a time delay of 5 minutes between successive complaints by the same person.
For more information, please click here.
To conclude, if you come across any dubious situation, all you need to do is to click a picture or a 2-minute video of the activity violating the MCC and describe it shortly, before registering the complaint.
The GIS information captured with the complaint will automatically flag it to the concerned District Control Room, which will then necessitate flying squads to reach the spot within a few minutes.
One must note that the cVIGIL app must be used for lodging MCC violation related cases only.
The District Controller has the authority to drop cases even before they assigned to the field unit, in scenarios where these are found to be personal grievances or duplicate and frivolous cases.
To download the cVIGIL app, click here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)