The Election Commission on Tuesday launched an Android-based app, using which a person can secretly send to it geo-tagged videos and photos of illegal money being distributed or a hate speech being made during polls.
The Internet-based beta version of the application is called 'cVIGIL', which stands for "citizens' vigil". It will be operationalised for the first time when assembly polls in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are held later this year. It will be made available on the Google Play app store.
The cVIGIL app will work only during the time the model code of conduct (MCC) is in place in a poll-bound state. The EC said it will "hide the complainant's phone number and identity so as to encourage information against high and mighty without any risk of subsequent possible backlash."
Those who do not hide their identity will also get a response from the EC on the action taken after their complaint. Chief Election Commissioner O. P. Rawat said the poll panel is bringing out this tool as there have been instances when vested interests have misled surveillance teams and directed them to a place away from the scene of poll code violation.
"The photos and videos will be automatically tagged by the geographical information system, and hence the surveillance teams will be directed to the correct place of incident where the poll code is being violated," the CEC said.
Deputy EC Sandeep Saxena said the app will be useful, especially in the backdrop of an instance when time lag was seen in reporting model code violations during the Karnataka assembly polls in May.
"This app will ensure prompt reporting of MCC violation with proper evidence and in a time-bound manner. This is an initiative where the EC can be seen walking the talk," he said. He said a person using the app will not be able to save the photos or videos he wants to report on his phone and will have to send them within 5 minutes to the local EC-appointed field unit, which will then spring into action to check the violation.
"If the complaint is correct, the person who sent the photo or the video clip will be intimated within 100 minutes," he added. A senior official said violations such as distribution of illegal inducements, black money and hate speech can be recorded via the app and sent to the EC for action.
"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 EC said in an advisory. It said "each reported incident is tracked and scrutinised from the beginning to the end, thus bringing accountability into the system."