The Election Commission of India has developed a mobile application, cVigil, that lets citizens report violations of the Model Code of Conduct, instances of political misconduct and unethical practices. These complaints about violations are then addressed by officials on election duty in real time.
The complaints lodged by citizens are sent to a field team, along with the description of the violation as well as geographical coordinates of the incident using global positioning system, to help the unit identify the incident spot and start its investigation. After completing its investigation, the field team submits the status report, along with evidence, to the returning officer. Click here for more Election news
How is cVigil used?
The application is available on Google playstore and can be downloaded by those using an Android operating system. The app is not yet available for other platforms. So far, as many as 4 lakh citizens have downloaded the app across the country.
The app allows citizens to report a violation either anonymously or by giving his/her details. If one wants to report anonymously, the citizen can post the complaint without signing in to the application. Those who want to identify themselves can log in to the app by providing details such as their name and mobile number.
Importantly, a citizen has to take a picture or video to support the complaint. No complaint can be reported without an image or video attached. Also, images and videos from a gallery can’t be used to support the complaint.
What kind of violations can be reported?
The app is meant for reporting violations of Model Code of Conduct, which comprise a set of guidelines issued by the EC for political parties and candidates.
Citizens can use the app to report one or more of the following instances around them: distribution of money, distribution of gifts or coupons, distribution of liquor, pasting of posters or banners without permission, display of firearm to intimidate citizens, using vehicles or convoy without permission, paid news, property defacement by painting slogans, transportation of voters on polling day, campaigning within 200 metres of polling booth, campaigning during the ban period, giving communal speeches and use of posters without mandatory declarations, among others.
How are cVigil complaints being handled in Pune?
The Pune District Election Officer has opened a cVigil control room at the Pune Collectorate that monitors the grievances raised by citizens. In the control room, 12 employees work across three shifts and use monitoring software to see if the grievances are being redressed by the field officers.
“When a citizen uses the cVigil app to raise a complaint, it goes to the ECI cloud. As every complaint is geo-tagged, it directly goes to the concerned district office. Once it comes to us, we assign it to the closest flying squad unit of the concerned assembly constituency. The concerned team has to reach the spot immediately and take corrective action.
The team then reports the action to the returning officer of the assembly constituency, who then forwards the final report with his comment to the District Election Officer,” said Additional District Collector Suresh Jadhav, who heads the cVigil team.
According to Jadhav, every step in the handling of the grievance has been allotted a specific time-frame, within which the concerned staffer has to act. This helps in resolving the complaints within 100 minutes, as desired by the EC.
So far, the control room has received 60 complaints on cVigil from various constituencies. “Since active campaigning is yet to start, most of the complaints that we have received till now pertain to defacement of property. These were resolved by our teams within the given time,” said Jadhav.