New Delhi, Aug 21: Following the 'ink controversy' in the Haryana Rajya Sabha elections, a working group set up by the Election Commission has recommended various options, including introduction of a special pen, to avoid repeat of such disputes in future polls.
Soon after the controversy erupted, the Commission had set up a working group of officials to recommend measures to plug the loopholes. 12 votes marked using a wrong pen were declared invalid leading to the defeat of Congress-backed independent candidate lawyer R K Anand, who lost to media baron Subhash Chandra.
The EC mandates all votes to be cast using a violet pen for uniformity and to ensure that secrecy of votes is maintained.
Now, the working group has recommended that a special pen bearing either the signature of the returning officer or 'Election Commission of India' inscribed on it be used by the voters to mark their preference, official sources said.
The group said the pen -- possibly a special sketch pen or a felt pen -- be given to voters outside the voting booth and taken back when they come out after casting vote.
The group has also recommended deputing two, instead of the present one, observers for RS polls. The pen will be treated as a voting article and will be sealed along with ballot papers after the elections are over.
Certain rules relating to articles provided by EC for RS polls may have to be amended. EC is carrying out experiments with a pen with indelible ink produced by Mysore Inks specially for the poll panel.
The pen could one day replace the indelible ink bottles in Indian elections. Official sources said the special pen for RS polls could be on lines of the indelible ink pen.
But they said good quality pens can also be procured off the shelf. Since ballot papers are used in Legislative Council polls, the proposed pens could also be utilized for these elections.
"Such rules can be amended after seeking consent of the Law Minister. Once EC makes the proposal we will look into it," a top Law Ministry official said.