Bengal headed for another row with EC on transfer issue

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Apr 28, 2014 00:06 IST

The West Bengal government on Sunday took a fresh confrontation route with the Election Commission on the issue of transfer of bureaucrats and police officials. This follows chief secretary Sanjay Mitra’s reply to the poll panel’s letter seeking explanations.

The EC had asked Mitra why he, without consulting it, had in his transfer order for the bureaucrats and police officers said their transfer would be in force till the Lok Sabha elections are over. Sources in Nabanna, the state secretariat, said Mitra wrote that the state government did not do anything unconstitutional by fixing a time limit for the transfers.

The sources said Mitra cited an order of the Karnataka High Court order to argue that the state government has the full authority to decide over the transfer officers after the polls, when the EC ceases to exercise authority over matters pertaining to transfer and removal.

Mitra refused to make any comment on the matter. Officials in the West Bengal election office here were also tight-lipped. “It is an issue between the state government and the EC and so we have nothing to say about this,” the officer on special duty to the chief electoral officer said.

Earlier this month, the EC directed the Bengal government to replace eight officers including five police superintendents and a district magistrate after the Congress and the BJP accused them of bias. On April 8, chief minister Mamata Banerjee refused to accept the directive but piped down later.

But at the same time, she said that the bureaucrats transferred for the time being would be reinstated to their former positions immediately after the Lok Sabha polls. A day later, the state government issued the order for transfer the officers EC specified but fixed the time limit.

Similarly on April 22, after the EC ordered transfer of 22 police officers and three block development officers from the districts, the state government issued another transfer order with the rider that the officers would be reinstated after the polls.

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