Acting on regular complaints of electoral malpractices on voting and counting days, the Election Commission on Tuesday launched a mobile app for citizens to report any violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during elections.
The app, called “cVIGIL”, launched by Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat, is set to be used in the forthcoming assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan on a pilot basis before it is put to extensive use during the next Lok Sabha elections.
“The app requires an Android smartphone equipped with a camera, good internet connection and GPS access. The operating system should be Android Jellybean and above. The application supports all the latest Android smartphones,” the poll panel said in a press note.
To report a violation, one would need to click a picture or record a video of up to two minutes’ duration of the scene of violations of the model code. The photo or video is to be uploaded on the app. The automated location mapping will be done by the app using the Geographic Information System.
To prevent any misuse, the app will not allow uploading of the pre-recorded or old images and videos. The app will not facilitate saving of the photos or videos recorded using the ‘cVIGIL’ app into the phone gallery either. After its successful submission, the user gets a unique ID to track and receive the follow up on their mobile. The identity of the complainant will be kept confidential.
“The app will allow anyone in the election-bound state to report violations of MCC that comes into effect from the date of announcement of elections and goes on till a day after the polls. By using this app, citizens can immediately report on incidents of misconduct within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to rush to the office of the returning officer to lodge a complaint,” the EC said.
Once the complaint is lodged, the information beeps in the District Control Room from where it is assigned to a field unit, consisting of flying squads, static surveillance teams, reserve teams etc. Each field unit will have a GIS-based mobile application called ‘cVIGIL Dispatcher’, which allows the unit to directly reach the location through navigation technology and take action.
After a field unit has taken action, it messages and uploads the relevant document as ‘action taken report’ via the ‘cVIGIL Dispatcher’ to the returning officer concerned for his decision and disposal.
The app will be operational only in the states/ regions where elections are announced. The moment a citizen exits an election-bound state, the app will become inactive, the EC said.
CEC Rawat earlier assured that the identity of those exposing electoral malpractices through the commission’s mobile app will be protected. “We will take steps not to disclose the identity of persons who are sending such videos to the Commission. The mobile app empowers the common man to send complaints with evidence,” Rawat said.
Asked to comment on complaints of tampering of EVMs by political parties, the CEC emphatically said “there is absolutely nothing to doubt the integrity of the system”. “Such allegations against EVMs made by political parties are a means of seeking a scapegoat route,” he said.