Presently there is a lack of fast information channel to transmit and track complaints on MCC violations. Delay in reporting of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violations has often resulted in the culprits escaping detection from the flying squads of election commission entrusted to ensure enforcement of Model Code of Conduct. Further, lack of any documented, untampered, evidence in the form of pictures or videos was a major hurdle in establishing veracity of a complaint ex post facto. The Commission’s experience has also shown a significant percentage of reporting was false or inaccurate, which led to wastage of precious time of Field Units. Further, the absence of a robust response system to quickly and accurately identify the scene of occurrence with the help of geographical location details hampered election officers’ ability to reach the spot on time to apprehend the violators.
The new cVIGIL app launched by Election Commission of India is expected to fill in all these gaps and create a fast-track complaint reception and redressal system. cVIGIL is a innovative mobile application for citizens to report Model Code of Conduct and Expenditure violations during the elections. ‘cVIGIL’ stands for Vigilant Citizen and emphasizes the proactive and responsible role citizens can play in conduct of free and fair elections.
cVIGIL, a user-friendly and easy to operate the android application, which can be used for reporting violations from the date of notifications for bye-election/ assembly/ parliamentary elections. The uniqueness of the app is that it only allows Live Photo/ video with auto location capture from within the app to ensure digital evidence for flying squads to act upon in a time bound manner.
The app could be installed and used on any android (Jellybean and above) smartphone equipped with a camera, good internet connection and GPS access. By using this app, citizens can immediately report on incidents of political misconduct within minutes of having witnessed them and without having to rush to the office of the returning officer. cVIGIL connects vigilant citizens with District Control Room, Returning Officer and Field Unit (Flying Squads) / Static Surveillance Teams, thereby, creating a rapid and accurate reporting, action and monitoring system.
All is required, is to click a picture or a 2 minute video of the activity violating MCC and describe it shortly, before registering the complaint. GIS information captured with the complaint automatically flags it to the concerned District Control Room, permitting flying squads to be routed to the spot within few minutes. The cVIGIL operating model will operate as follows:
Step 1- A citizen clicks a picture or records a 2-minute video. The Photo / Video is uploaded on the app, along with an automated location mapping by the Geographic Information System. After its successful submission, the citizen gets a Unique ID to track and receive follow up updates on his mobile. A citizen can report many incidents in this manner and will get a unique id for each report for follow up updates. The app user has the option of registering complaints anonymously through cVIGIL App. In that case, the mobile number and other profile details are not sent to the system. However, in case of anonymous complaints, the user will not be getting further status messages because system will not be capturing the phone details. Citizens, however, have the option of following up on such complaints in person from the concerned returning officer.
Step 2- Once the citizen has reported the complaint, the information beeps in the District Control Room from where it is assigned to a Field Unit. A field unit consists of Flying Squads, Static Surveillance Team, Reserve team e.t.c. Each Field Unit will have a GIS-based mobile application called ‘cVIGIL Investigator’, which allows the field unit to directly reach the location by following the GIS cues and navigation technology and take action.
Step 3- After a Field Unit has acted upon the complaint, the field report is sent by them online through the Investigator App to the concerned returning officer for decision and disposal. If the incident is found correct, the information is sent to the National Grievance Portal of the Election Commission of India for further action and the vigilant citizen is informed about the status within 100 minutes.
The app has inbuilt features to prevent its misuse. Some of the important features are listed below:
- cVIGIL application will be usable only within geographical boundary of States where elections are being held.
- The cVIGIL user will get 5 minutes to report an incidence after having clicked a picture or a video. The app will not allow uploading of the pre-recorded images/ videos, neither would it allow users to save photos/videos clicked from this app into the phone gallery directly.
- To prevent misuse of the system and to avoid repetitive complaints from the same spot, the system forces time delay of 5 minutes between successive complaints by the same person.
- District Controller has the option of dropping duplicate, frivolous and unrelated cases even before the cases are assigned to the field unit.
The cVIGIL application must be used for lodging MCC violation related cases only. District Controller could drop a cVIGIL complaint without any further recourse, in case personal grievances are registered through cVIGIL app or the digital attachment of a cVIGIL complaint is found to be unrelated to a MCC violation. Citizens are therefore, encouraged to use the ECI main website for lodging the complaints or call the National Contact Centre at 1800111950 or State Contact Centre at 1950.