IAS officer, not Vidhan Sabha secretary, to conduct Presidential poll in Haryana
Haryana Vidhan Sabha secretary Rajender Kumar Nandal’s functioning had come under the lens when the BJP-backed independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Haryana in 2016 after votes of 14 Congress MLAs were declared invalid.punjab Updated: Jul 15, 2017 18:57 IST
The Election Commission (EC) has appointed Haryana-cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Pankaj Aggarwal as assistant returning officer (ARO) for the July 17 Presidential election, in place of Haryana Vidhan Sabha secretary Rajender Kumar Nandal.
Usually, its is the Vidhan Sabha secretary who functions as ARO in the Presidential polls. Nandal’s functioning had come under the lens when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-backed independent candidate and media baron Subhash Chandra was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Haryana in 2016 after votes of 14 Congress MLAs were declared invalid.
Aggarwal, a 2000-batch IAS officer, is presently posted as Haryana labour commissioner.
The EC, under the Right to Information Act, informed on July 11 that it has recommended “disciplinary action” against Nandal “for lack of supervisory control” during the June 2016 biennial election to the Rajya Sabha from the state.
In the Rajya Sabha polls, Chandra had defeated Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)-backed independent candidate and Delhi-based lawyer RK Anand.
The votes were rejected because the Congress MLAs used wrong ink to mark the vote which needed to be marked with a violet pen that is provided by the returning officer.
A Supreme Court lawyer, Anand had challenged the election alleging “forgery and fabrication”. He had alleged that the decision of the Nandal to declare some votes null and void was wrong. He had also accused Nandal of “conniving” with the winning candidate.
The Punjab and Haryana high court, however, had upheld the Chandra’s election.
It is in this backdrop that the EC has not accepted the name of Nandal for appointment as ARO for the Presidential election. The EC stated that it had requested the Haryana chief secretary to suggest a name for the appointment of the ARO in consultation with the chief electoral officer Haryana. The chief secretary then proposed Aggarwal’s name.
Haryana has 90 members in the Vidhan Sabha who will cast their votes through the ballot paper on Monday from 10am to 5pm.
In neighbouring Punjab, the Vidhan Sabha secretary Sashi Mishra will be ARO.