The Mamata Banerjee government on Monday admitted to lapses in the transfer of erstwhile additional director (law & order), Surajit Kar Purokayastha.
The government communicated to the Election Commission that the move to appoint Purokayastha without seeking the prior consent of the apex election body had been a mistake.
State home secretary Basudeb Bandopadhyay reportedly admitted to the lapse while seeking the post- facto approval for making the transfer effective. While EC approved the transfer post-facto, it did ask the government to exercise extreme caution in future cases.
Upset over the transfer, Left Front and Congress had individually approached EC, claiming the state government violated the model code of conduct by not seeking prior permission of EC in view of the forthcoming by-elections in three assembly constituencies.
After convening a high-level meeting on the day, the home secretary forwarded a letter to the office of the chief electoral officer (CEO) in Bengal, wherein he admitted that though he hadn’t intended to bypass the EC strictures, there had been lapses on the part of the government.
Reading out excerpts from the letter, CEO Sunil Gupta said that the home secretary explained that the transfer had to be made in the light of an incident in a communally sensitive area of Kolkata.
However, home secretary’s letter contradicts the statement made by state chief secretary Sanjoy Mitra post the transfer. Mitra said that the move had nothing to do with the events at Garden Reach. “There is nothing called normal or abnormal transfer,” Mitra had said.
“The home secretary admitted that the state government should have sought the prior permission of the EC and said the lapse was inadvertent. The home secretary also sought post-facto approval for implementing the transfers,” Gupta said, quoting the summary of contents of the home secretary’s letter.
A source at the CEO’s office said the home secretary further explained that since the transfer call was taken on February 14 and the following three days were holidays, the government couldn’t seek permission of the election watchdog.
“The EC gave post-facto approval, but cautioned the state government against making such unilateral decisions in the future,” the source said.
However, the home secretary defended the government, saying the EC had found some merits in the latter’s argument and hence gave the postfacto approval.
“The matter is resolved and there’s no need for further discussions,” Bandopadhyay said.