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EC orders suspension of 2 poll officials
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
Taking serious note of large-scale irregularities in electoral rolls revision in Amritsar and Muktsar districts of Punjab, the Election Commission has directed immediate suspension of two officers and transfer of four officials, including a Deputy Commissioner and a Subdivisional Magistrate for gross dereliction of election duty.

In a stern letter to Punjab Chief Secretary N.K. Arora, the Election Commission directed immediate suspension of Election Kanungo of Tarn Taran Joga Singh and Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) of Lambi constituency and transfer of Deputy Commissioner of Muktsar K J S Cheema, Tarn Taran Subdivisional Magistrate G P S Sahota, Naib Tehsildar of Gidderbaha Charanjit Singh and Election Kanungo of Tarn Taran Joga Singh.

It directed the state government that the SDM, Tarn Taran, and DC, Muktsar should not be assigned any election work in the ensuing poll to the Legislative Assembly in Punjab.

The Election Commission made it clear that the compliance report with regard to the transfer and suspension of officers should be sent for its information latest by December 29, 2001.

However, it said the commission expected that the disciplinary action would be completed within the required period of six months.

It also directed the Punjab Government to seek prior approval of the commission for posting of substitutes in good time and the officers suspended and transferred may be relieved by local arrangements immediately.

“The commission, further, directs that the commission may be apprised in detail regarding the follow-up action taken by the state government on the recommendations made by it,” the letter to the Chief Secretary said.

The commission’s action comes a day after the full panel headed by the Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh considered the inquiry report submitted by Mr K.R. Prasad, Secretary, Election Commission, with regard to the discrepancies in electoral roll preparations in Taran Taran, Naushera Pannun, Gidderbaha and Lambi Assembly constituencies in Punjab.

The report revealed large-scale irregularities, with mala fide intention to subvert the process of free and fair elections, in the preparation and revision of electoral rolls with reference to January 1, 2002, as the qualifying date.

The inquiry report pointed out that gross irregularities were committed so as to exclude a large number of names of eligible electors and/or to include a large number of names of ineligible persons from or in the electoral rolls without following the procedure laid down in the rules and, in violation of the relevant directions of the Election Commission and Supreme Court on the subject in Lal Babu Hussain Vs Electoral Registration Officers and others.

It may be recalled that as per the November 8, 2000 official memo sent to all states and Union Territories by the Department of Personnel and Training, officers on election duty are deemed to be on deputation to the Election Commission and are subject to its control, superintendence and discipline under Section 13CC of the Representation of the People Act, 1950.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference here today Deputy Election Commissioner Subhas Pani said the commission was closely monitoring the electoral rolls revision process undertaken in various states, especially in the states going for polls, and would take severe and exemplary action against those officials who were found indulging in dereliction of duty.

He also conveyed the commission’s annoyance over some IAS/IPS officers who are on deputation from outside the state and not discharging their duties with total impartiality and alertness.

Mr Pani said the states going for Assembly poll early next year (Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Manipur) had been asked to review all IAS/IPS officers on deputation from outside the state and take prior action before the poll was held.

Asked about what action is being initiated by the commission on various complaints of irregularities in electoral roll preparations received from Uttar Pradesh, Mr Pani said the commission was closely scrutinising the complaints and would not hesitate in taking action wherever necessary.

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