(HT file photo)
(HT file photo)

EVM Controversy PS revenue’s stand to take on EC has its genesis in 2 past incidents

Principal secretary Revenue IAS officer Arun Pandey’s unprecedented stand to take on the Election Commission while refusing to transfer 5 revenue officials has its genesis in two past incidents too
By HT Correspondent | Ranjan, Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON APR 03, 2017 08:25 PM IST

Bhopal Principal secretary Revenue IAS officer Arun Pandey’s unprecedented stand to take on the Election Commission while refusing to transfer 5 revenue officials has its genesis in two past incidents too. Pandey who held divisional commissioner post in Ujjain had been shifted twice from the post ahead of 2013 assembly elections and again ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The 5 revenue officials including 2 tehsildars and 3 naib tehsildars are among 19 government servants besides collector and SP, Bhind who were supposed to be shifted from Bhind in compliance with the commission’s order in the wake of an EVM controversy.

However, Pandey put his foot down and instead of transferring his subordinates he chose to conduct an inquiry to know if the five officers had indulged in any dereliction of duty. On inquiry, as Pandey said, he was satisfied that there was no reason to shift them, hence he wrote a 10-page letter to the EC stating the reasons behind his stand. The commission is reportedly yet to respond to Pandey’s letter.

Pandey who happens to be MP’s industries minister Rajendra Shukla’s brother-in-law was shifted from Ujjain in the first week of November in 2013 from the post of Ujjain divisional commission on an EC order as Shukla was contesting assembly election from Rewa seat. The distance between Ujjain and Rewa is about 700 kilometers.

The IAS officer got his position back barely 40 days after he had been shunted after the assembly election was over. However, he was shifted again after notification of Lok Sabha polls in 2014 on the same ground. Though Shukla didn’t contest LS polls, he was campaigning for the BJP.

Talking to the Hindustan Times Pandey said, “I have been an election observer in several states at least 11 times on behalf of the Election Commission. When I am an observer appointed by the commission it has complete faith in me but when I hold an administrative charge I am shifted merely on the ground by the commission that I am a relation of a politician. It happened twice with me. I don’t think being a relation of a politician is a crime.”

He said such transfers put a question mark against the efficiency and integrity of officers. They faced questions from their children, other family members and also society as to why they had been removed. “Nobody defended me when I was shifted twice but at least I can defend my staff against whom neither any complaint was lodged nor did they face any inquiry”, he added.

“There is no harm if an inquiry is conducted- be it for a few days or even few hours- and then the officer is removed on the basis of the inquiry findings but shifting any officer even without telling him as to what his fault is goes against the principles of natural justice. For, even a murderer is given an opportunity to defend himself”, he added.

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