M A I N   N E W S

Chautala refuses to shift DGP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala today refused to either shift the state DGP, Mr M.S. Malik, or name any panel of eligible police officers for the post as directed by the Election Commission and blamed Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani for precipitating the crisis.

“We will neither issue order for his ( Mr Malik’s ) transfer nor submit a panel of names to the Election Commission”, Mr Chautala told newspersons here, a day after the EC ordered the shifting of Mr Malik in view of his wife Krishna Malik contesting the Lok Sabha poll from Sonepat.

A defiant Mr Chautala blamed Mr Advani for the situation and said such an attempt could result in a “constitutional crisis”.

“It is clear that the decision is not of the EC but of Mr Advani”, he said.

Mr Chautala, who had convened a press conference to release a list of candidates for Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, said the state government would not name a panel of three eligible police officers who could be appointed as the DGP.

“We will not name any panel. Administration is a fundamental responsibility of any state government and it has been breached”, he said adding that the government could seek legal recourse.

He said a situation might arise that he could be asked to step down as Chief Minister as two of his sons were contesting the elections.

“This is a bad precedent and could result in a constitutional crisis”, he said.

The EC is reported to have asked the state government to send a panel of three names of eligible officers who could be appointed as the DGP.

The EC directive follows complaints lodged by the BJP MP from Sonepat Kishan Singh Sangwan, who demanded that deployment of the Central paramilitary forces alleging that the Haryana police would be used to ensure Mrs Malik’s victory.

Subsequently, a BJP delegation met the EC and demanded that Mr Malik should either be shifted or asked to proceed on leave.


CEC: order must be implemented
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 7
In less than 24 hours after the Election Commission of India directed the shifting of Haryana’s Director-General of Police (DGP) M.S. Malik to a post isolated from electoral process, the Commission members today made it clear that “their orders had to be respected”.

Addressing a Press conference this afternoon, Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy added that they knew how to get the orders implemented. “Just wait,” he asserted. “We will not spell out things, but are keen to see that the orders are respected.”

Mr Krishnamurthy added that they had nothing against the DGP, “but in the interest of public perception regarding the fairness of elections, the orders had been issued”. They also added that “politicisation of bureaucracy” would not be tolerated and action would be initiated against all “politically-biased officers”.

Giving details, Mr Krishnamurthy and other members, including Mr B.B. Tandon and Mr N. Gopalaswami, claimed that the Commission had received a number of complaints regarding “politicisation of bureaucracy”, besides the involvement of senior officers in the election process. Action, the members asserted, would be taken after the verification of facts. District level officers had, in the meantime, been told to act neutral, they said.

The assertion assumes significance as complaints alleging misuse of official machinery just before the elections have been pouring in. Acting on different complaints, the Commission had recently directed the shifting of two Senior Superintendents of Punjab Police. The transfer of a Deputy Superintendent of Punjab Police had also been recommended.

The Commission, meanwhile, asserted that they had also been receiving complaints regarding the misuse of money and liquor power in the states during the elections. “In an attempt to make sure that the voters were influenced, we have appointed three observers, along with a special observer, to assist the Chief Election Officer in monitoring the adherence of code of conduct, besides ensuring free and fair elections”. An expenditure observer has also been appointed to monitor the expenses. The ceiling too had been increased to Rs 25 lakh per parliamentary constituency, they asserted.

They added that the decision on the issue of banning opinion polls would be conveyed within a day or so. “We agree in principle that opinion polls should be prohibited, but modalities are to be worked out,” they said.

They also promised more forces for “sensitive” polling stations, besides adoption of steps to ensure against the misuse of religious symbols and places during the polls. “Central para military forces would be stationed in both the states,” they revealed. “Additional forces would be deployed in sensitive areas.

They added that the situation would be monitored through election observers. In case of violation, prompt action would be taken,” they maintained. The affirmation is noteworthy because Punjab Police has already identified 3520 “sensitive” polling stations in the state.

They further revealed that they had taken note of the fact that the wife of a sitting Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge was contesting from Bathinda. The police, they added, had also been advised to come down heavily on newspapers carrying surrogate advertisements without print line. They had also been asked to take action under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code in case of scandalous advertisements, they said. The police has also been directed to take action on complaints alleging threat to law and order situation due to free movement of criminals.

They asserted that time saving electronic voting machines (EVMs) would be used throughout the country for the first time. Punjab, they said, had 19,000 EVMs, while there were 16,520 such machines in Haryana.

Contrary to the apprehensions, the machines were absolutely voter friendly and trustworthy. They had enough safeguards and there were no chances invalid votes being polled, they said. Foreign countries too were showing keen interest in the machines, they said.

The Commission, they claimed, was insisting on filing of affidavits by the candidates. The same would be available on the website and other places for public scrutiny, in light of a Supreme Court judgement.

As far as issuance of photo identity cards was concerned, the members claimed that in Punjab 75 per cent of voters possessed the cards, while 90.37 per cent of population in Haryana had cards. “We will prescribe additional documents as instruments of identification as all do not possess cards,” they said.

Appealing the residents to come forward for fearlessly exercising their franchise, the members said polling station would have special queues for senior citizens and the disabled.


EC files caveat in HC on Malik’s transfer
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 7
In a bid to prevent Haryana Director-General of Police DGP M.S. Malik from seeking any relief from court against the order of the Election Commission of India (EC), which asks the Haryana Government to shift Mr Malik, the EC has filed a caveat in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

According to available information, the caveat requests the high court not to issue any order without hearing it in any future writ filed by the DGP challenging the order.

Meanwhile, news that Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala had refused to carry out the EC orders to shift Mr Malik also led to speculation about the future course of action that could be adopted by the EC.

Taking to The Tribune, a leading constitutional authority said till the time it issued the notification for the said election (Sonepat in this case), the EC had only a recommendatory role to play. “It can only recommend and not order till that time. It depends upon the government to either accept the recommendation or ignore it. But, once the notification has been issued, as per the Representation of People’s Act, all government staff is deemed to have come under the administrative control of the EC. Then, all its orders will have to be carried out or it will lead to a constitutional crisis,” said the lawyer. As per Article 324 of the Constitution, the superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of all elections to Parliament vests in the EC. As per the latest amendment, the directions issued by the EC are not directory but mandatory.

As per Section 13 CC of the Representation of People’s Act, all officers connected wih the preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of elections are deemed to be on deputation to the EC and are subject to the control, superintendence and discipline of the EC. The notification for the Sonepat seat is scheduled to be issued on April 16. In its order dated April 1, the EC had asked the Haryana Government to shift the DGP as his wife, Krishna Malik, was the nominee of the ruling Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) for Sonepat. However, the Haryana Government, sources said, had requested the EC to reconsider its order, which the EC refused.

When asked, the counsel for the commission said the EC wanted to present its position before the high court so that any order, if passed, on a writ filed by the DGP was not passed without hearing the EC.

In its caveat, which was filed on April 2, the EC said it was expected that the DGP might file a civil writ petition in the high court challenging the April 1 order of the EC. It also said the DGP was expected to seek interim relief in the matter.

Saying since it was a contesting party, the EC had requested that in the interest of justice, equity and fair play, it should be served notice in the event of the DGP moving the court. Incidentally, no such caveat has been filed in the matter relating to the EC directive to the Punjab Government to shift the SSPs of Ropar and Ferozepore.


News Analysis
EC, Haryana Govt on collision course
Y.P. Gupta

Chandigarh, April 7
The Election Commission of India and the Chautala Government in Haryana are on a collision course over the transfer of the Director-General of Police, Dr M.S. Malik.

The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, has categorically refused to implement the directions of the Election Commission to transfer Mr Malik, whose wife, Krishna, is the ruling INLD candidate from the Sonepat Lok Sabha seat.

Mr Chautala said at a press conference in Delhi today that there was no rationale behind shifting Mr Malik only because his wife was contesting the election. “My two sons are also contesting the Lok Sabha election from Haryana, should I also step down as Chief Minister?” he said.

The Chief Election Commissioner, Mr T.S. Krishnamurti, who along with the Election Commissioners, Mr B.B. Tandon and Mr N. Gopalaswami, was in Chandigarh today, said about Mr Chautala’s refusal to transfer the DGP that “we know what we will do(in that case). You should wait for our action. Our orders have to be respected.”

It seems there is confusion in the state government over the commission’s directive. About one hour before Mr Chautala flatly refused to implement the commission’s order, the Chief Secretary, Mr A.N. Mathur, told newsmen that the government had received the commission’s orders. He said the government would send a panel of three officers, as demanded by the commission, to it within the next two days. The delay, he said, had been caused because the Chief Minister had been away from Chandigarh. Before taking action on the commission’s directive, he had to be consulted.

Mr Krishnamurti said the commission had nothing against Mr Malik individually. His transfer had been ordered because his wife was either a candidate or was likely to contest the elections. The step had been taken in the interest of “maintaining public perception of neutrality”.

Earlier the commission had met Mr Mathur and the Haryana Home Secretary, Mrs Promilla Issar, at Punjab Raj Bhavan. The Haryana officers were not accompanied by Mr Malik. The state police was represented at the meeting by Mr C.P. Bansal, Additional Director-General of Police(Law and Order). It is not known what Mr Mathur told the commission regarding the implementation of its order.

Mr Krishnamurti said the commission had received certain specific complaints about the “politicalisation” of lower-level bureaucracy. He admitted that the commission had also received a complaint from the BJP that the D.C. and the S.P. of Rohtak had participated in a meeting of the INLD workers convened by the younger son of the Chief Minister, Mr Abhay Singh Chautala, at a tourist complex in Rohtak recently.

He said the commission would take appropriate action after verification of the complaints.

Meanwhile, the commission is prepared for a legal battle on the issue as it has already filed a caveat in the Punjab and Haryana High Court urging it not to grant interim relief to Mr Malik in case he moves the court against the commission’s orders.

The caveat, filed through Mr Hemant Sarin, expresses apprehension that Mr Malik may challenge the commission’s order of April 1 last ordering his transfer. The state government had urged the commission to reconsider its order. Instead the commission yesterday reiterated its order to transfer Mr Malik and also asked the government to send a panel of officers out of which one would be appointed DGP.Back

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