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HC stays tribunal order on transfers
Fair poll our subject, says EC

Bilaspur, November 28
Acting on two petitions by the Election Commission of India, the Chhattisgarh High Court today stayed the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order cancelling the transfers of district collectors posted in Jashpur and Bastar.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice K.H.N. Kuranga and Mr Justice Lalchand Bhadu issued notices to the collectors now posted in the districts and also to the two officers who were posted there earlier.

Arguing the matter on behalf of the Election Commission, advocate Kanak Tiwari said the issues relating to the conduct of free and fair poll could not be decided by the CAT as it was a subject of the commission.

The CAT also did not have the jurisdiction to hear such cases as the tribunal dealt with disputes between the employer and the employee, he said.

The EC also told the court that the collectors had not been removed as a punishment. It was a step towards the conduct of free and fair poll, the EC said.

Election Commissionís counsels Kanak Tiwari and Sandip Dubey referred to a Supreme Court order dated September 21, 2000 in a case involving the Centre, EC and nine state governments.

After probing complaints of alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct, the commission had ordered the transfer of Jashpur Collector B.S. Ananth and his Bastar counterpart L.N. Suryavanshi. The state government shifted the officers on October 29, 2003.

The bureaucrats challenged the orders at the CATís Jabalpur bench, which issued a stay on October 31.

The court struck down the CATís stay on November 14 and directed the tribunal to conduct a Ďfinalí hearing. On November 25, the CAT annulled the Chhattisgarh Governmentís orders and said the Commissionís decision was ďillegal and improper.Ē

The tribunal ruled that there was nothing in the actions of the collectors concerned to prove code violation.

Mr Vinay Harit was representing the Centre.

Different political parties had alleged that Mr Ananth undertook a helicopter tour with Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and was present when Mr Jogiís wife Renu was distributing spectacles during a government programme. The charge against Mr Suryavanshi was that he distributed bags with Mr Jogiís pictures.

The district collectors remained at their posts after the CATís stay and they moved out only after the EC dashed off a missive to the Governor. ó UNI, PTI
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