EC removes Bengal DGP, home secys in six states | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

EC removes Bengal DGP, home secys in six states

By, New Delhi
Mar 19, 2024 01:05 AM IST

Election Commission transfers top police officer in West Bengal, home secretaries of 6 states, and Mumbai corporation head to ensure free and fair polls.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Monday transferred West Bengal’s senior-most police officer, the home secretaries of six states, and the head of the Mumbai corporation as part of its effort to ensure free and fair polls.

Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar (HT Photo)
Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar (HT Photo)

Among those transferred are Rajiv Kumar, the DGP of West Bengal — the second ECI-driven transfer since 2016 for the officer — and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner Iqbal Chahal. ECI also removed the home secretaries of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the secretaries of the general administrative department in Mizoram and Himachal Pradesh.

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ECI officials said the transferred IAS officers in these seven states were holding dual charges with one in the office of chief minister which would have potentially seemed to “compromise impartiality and neutrality” required during the electoral process. The decision was taken following a meeting of commissioners headed by chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar on Monday morning, one ECI official said on condition of anonymity.

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Once elections are announced — the national elections get underway from April 19, and will be held in seven phases — officers in the Centre and states come under ECI’s jurisdiction and it can post them anywhere till elections are over. Monday’s order is a step towards ensuring “free and fair” polls, the officers said.

West Bengal DGP Rajiv Kumar, a 1989 batch IPS officer, who was named the state’s top police officer in December 2023, has been in the political spotlight after the BJP and other opposition parties accused the Bengal police of failing to provide protection to an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team that sought to question TMC strongman Shahjahan Sheikh at Sandeshkhali on January 5. Sheikh was arrested by West Bengal police following the Calcutta high court order on March 1 and was handed over to CBI on order of the high court on March 6.

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Kumar served as commissioner of Kolkata Police from February 2016 to February 2019. He was removed from the post in April 2016 by ECI because of assembly elections. The government reinstated him in May 2016. Before 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the state government transferred Kumar to the criminal investigation department (CID) of the Bengal Police as additional director general.

A computer engineer from IIT Roorkee, Kumar has been a target of BJP, Bengal’s main opposition party, since 2019 when CBI sought to question him in the Saradha chit fund investigation. CBI accused him of tampering vital evidence. Kumar, who was heading the state CID at that time, made national news by disappearing. He appeared before the CBI in Shillong, where he was questioned for two days. After that, the government made Kumar principal secretary of the information technology department. Last year, he was named DGP.

In the evening, the commission appointed 1988 batch IPS officer, Vivek Sahay as state’s new DGP. Sahay was DGP (Home Guards).

West Bengal BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya welcomed the decision and accused Kumar of being biased.

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh asked the election commission under what rule Kumar has been transferred as he was posted as DGP only four months ago. “We have complied with the EC guidelines related to transfers,” Ghosh said.

The commission also earlier directed state governments to transfer officers connected with election-related work, who have completed three years or are in their home districts. Maharashtra had not complied with the directions in respect of few municipal commissioners and some additional and deputy municipal commissioners and they were also transferred on Monday.

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The poll panel under CEC Rajiv Kumar conveyed its displeasure to the state chief secretary and asked him to comply with the order by 6pm on Monday.

The EC also transferred, Pankaj Joshi, a 1989 batch IAS officer, who has been holding charge of Gujarat home department after his predecessor Mukesh Puri retired in January this year. Joshi, is also additional chief secretary at chief minister’s office and has additional charge as managing director of Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd, a Gujarat government company. In the evening, the commission replaced Joshi with AK Rakesh, Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) , Farmers, Welfare and Co-operation Department, as new Home Secretary.

In Uttar Pradesh, the EC ordered the transfer of principal secretary home Sanjay Prasad, a 1995 batch IAS officer. Prasad is the principal secretary to Chief Minister and has charge of Principal Secretary Information. Prasad, considered a trusted officer of chief minister Yogi Adityanath, was at the forefront of maintaining law and order during the consecration ceremony of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya on January 22.

The Election Commission has ordered the transfer of Bihar additional chief secretary (Home) S Siddharth, a 1991 batch IAS officer. Siddharth is the principal secretary to the Chief Minister and has additional charge of home department as well as cabinet coordination department. He was promoted to the rank of additional chief secretary on June 11, 2023 and is considered a trusted officer of Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar. He was the secretary to the CM earlier also. Following commission’s instruction, Pranav Kumar, an IAS officer of 2008 batch, was given the charge of home secretary in addition to additional charge of IG Prisons.

Jharkhand home secretary Arwa Rajkamal, a 2008 batch IAS officer, holds additional charge of secretary to chief minister.

In Himachal Pradesh, the commission transferred state home secretary, Abhishek Jain, a 2002 batch IAS officer, and state general administration department (GAD) Secretary, Rakesh Kanwar, a promoted IAS 2007 officer of batch. Both were secretaries to CM Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.

Mizoram GAD secretary Pu Vanlaldina Fanai, a promoted IAS officer of 2002 batch, secretary to CM Lalduhawma, was also transferred.

ECI also ordered the transfer of Uttarakhand home secretary, Shailesh Bagauli, a 2002 IAS officer .

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