EC withdraws Guwahati observer for unauthorised Assam minister ‘raid’

  • Digambar Patowary, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
  • Updated: Mar 18, 2016 23:06 IST
Election Commission officials seal an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) prior to the start of voting at a polling station in Dibrugarh, Assam. The EC has withdrawn its expenditure observer after an unauthorised raid was conducted. (AFP Photo)

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has withdrawn its expenditure observer Raghavendra Singh from Guwahati on Friday for carrying out an unauthorised ‘raid’ at residence of Assam minister Rockybul Hussain. The search raid was carried at the state minister’s residence at Panjabari area last Thursday.

ECI in a communiqué on Friday stated that the search raid was conducted at the Assam minister’s house by income tax dept and the expenditure observer had transgressed his jurisdiction by reaching at the spot himself and acted against the instructions of the Election Commission.

ECI stated that it does not authorise any of its observers to carry out any such enforcement activities by himself/ herself. There was a lapse from the expenditure observer in entire episode of raid at the state minister’s residence.

“The Commission has viewed this lapse by expenditure observer seriously and has withdrawn him from constituency forthwith and instructed the controlling authority to initiate suitable departmental action against him. All Observers have been directed to perform their actions within the prescribed framework as laid down by ECI manual”, stated in a communiqué of ECI.

The ECI stated that the search and seizure operation had been conducted independently by the Income Tax Department under the provisions of the Income Tax Act on receipt of intelligence from other independent agency. The expenditure observer deployed by the commission had activated the flying squad as a part of follow up action, following the information received from the Income Tax department.

The search raid at the Congress state minister’s house triggered controversy and the ruling Congress in Assam made allegation that section of officials of both the ECI and IT dept acted at the behest of party’s political opponent. Chief minister Gogoi said: “The search raid at the minister’s house is part of a bigger conspiracy against us.

Assam Congress on Friday asked the Election Commission to withdraw Election expenditure observer Raghavendra Singh from the state for allegedly acting in a ‘partisan’ and ‘high-handed’ manner against a particular political party.

“Singh, accompanied by CRPF and police personnel had surrounded the residence of senior Congress Minister Rakibul Hussain on March 16 without any prior intimation or notice,” Assam Congress president Anjan Dutta said in a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).

Dutta alleged Singh had stopped the vehicle of Hussain, who was accompanied by his wife and son, when they were coming out of their residence, refused to divulge his identity and forcefully conducted search of the minister’s personal vehicle and accompanying security escort vehicles.

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