After the election for Dental Council of India was delayed by over two months in Maharashtra, the voting procedure is faced with fresh problems with dentists claiming that the ballot papers issued by state government are invalid. The dentists called for a fresh election after alleging several discrepancies in the procedure.
Dentists claimed that the ballot papers sent to all registered voters had an unauthorised sticker with disclaimer that dates for election had changed. Some of them claimed that their registered number on electoral roll and on the ballot paper differed.
In a letter to the returning officer, member of Maharashtra State Dental Council, Dr A A Kumarswamy, requested for recall of all ballot papers and for fresh elections due to several discrepancies. “Let me know why action should not be initiated against you and your team for sending such an important document in such an irresponsible manner. I request a detailed inquiry against this action,” the letter said.
Dr Sandesh Mayekar said that the ballot papers sent by post to all registered dentists had wrong instructions to voters. Mayekar claimed that the ballot paper he received stated a signature and name will be considered valid. “The instruction on ballot paper are contrary to election rules. Signature must be considered invalid,” he said
“We are confused whether to vote through this ballot paper or not,” he said.
Dr Pravin Shingare, director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), said, “Even Dental Council of India found issues in the ballot paper. Government will take a call after returning officer submits an explanation about the discrepancies.”
The counting of votes is scheduled for October 30. Officials said some dentists have already sent votes by post.
The Dental Council of India holds elections every five years to choose a representative from each state. Maharashtra, which was supposed to hold its elections in 2013, has already witnessed a five year delay.
The election, earlier scheduled in July this year, was postponed after a dentist complained of several loopholes in the voting system — the software to register all voters was set-up and managed by general secretary of Indian Dental Association (IDA), Dr Ashok Dhoble, who was, also contesting elections. Several candidates argued that it was a case of ‘conflict of interest’ where one candidate was managing entire voters’ list.
Subsequently, the DMER wrote to medical education and drugs department to rectify the loopholes and conduct fresh elections. This is the second time the process to elect a state representative for the council has begun.
Returning officer Dr Sonali Kadam said, “We have made amendments and directed Maharashtra State Dental Council to publish on their website after the discrepancies were pointed out. There were too many corrections required. We have made changes and regularised the procedure. The current ballot papers are valid. Dentists can vote until October 29.”
The Dental Council of India, a quasi-judicial body, registers and monitors medical practice of dentists. The state has 38,000 dentists of which 19,000 are registered with the Maharashtra State Dental Council.
Officials said that dentists are supposed to renew their license to practice every year, however, 50 per cent dentists practice without registration in Maharashtra.