EC orders Jharkhand’s top cop to stay out of state until Lok Sabha polls are over
The Election Commission of India removed Anurag Gupta, additional director general of police (special branch), Jharkhand Police, from his present posting, asking him to report to the resident commissioner of the state at New Delhi by 1pm on Tuesday. The EC’s diktat came in the wake of Gupta facing charges of adopting corrupt practices to influence the 2016 Rajya Sabha biennial polls.
The EC letter, signed by undersecretary Rakesh Kumar and dated April 1, said that an FIR was already registered against Gupta on March 29, 2018, under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code in the matter concerning interference in elections, misuse of official position, and breach of conduct/service rules, among others. A disciplinary proceeding was also initiated by the state government on April 13, 2018, said the letter.
As Gupta was “holding a sensitive assignment for the purposes of elections”, he was “divested from the present assignment forthwith,” stated the letter. It added that Gupta would not be allowed any leave/duty to visit his cadre state till the completion of the election process.
During the 2016 Rajya Sabha elections, there were allegations of electoral impropriety against Gupta. It was alleged that he had misused his official position to influence voting in favour of BJP candidates Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Mahesh Poddar. The top police officer had allegedly influenced the opposition MLAs in the state for the two Upper House seats, and the BJP won both the seats.
In June 2017, the EC directed the Jharkhand government to register an FIR against Gupta. After an inordinate delay, an FIR was registered by the home department, at the Jagannathpur police station, under Sections 171 B, E, C, F (punishment for electoral offences of bribery and undue influence).
Since then, opposition leaders in Jharkhand have been demanding action against Gupta. In January 2019, when the Election Commission representatives visited the state to review poll preparations, opposition parties had complained to the EC about the state government’s inaction on the issue. On Monday, senior Congress leaders had met the CEO at New Delhi, and informed him about Gupta holding the key post despite EC objections. Home department sources said that the names of other additional director general-rank officers, such as Ajay Kumar Singh, Anil Palta, Prashant Singh, RK Mallick, Tadasha Mishra, and Reji Dungdung, had been sent to the chief electoral officer for the post.