After the poll body ordered transfer of four police officers including Kolkata police commissioner Anuj Sharma on Friday, Banerjee
had shot off a letter
+ to EC accusing it of acting at the behest of ruling party at the Centre.
EC wrote back to Mamata the same day, saying that the Commission was fully within its rights to order the transfers as per Section 28 of Representation of the People’s Act and a 1994 judgment of Kerala High Court.
As per Section 28 of R P Act, any police officer temporarily designated by any state government for conduct of the election is deemed to be on deputation to EC and is subject to control, superintendence and discipline of EC.
Quoting from a Kerala high court verdict passed in 1994, EC said,“the Commission can issue directions regarding posting and transfer of officers who are deemed to be on deputation to EC by virtue of powers exercised under Article 324(6) of the Constitution read with Section 13CC of RP Act 1950 and Section 28 of RP Act 1951.
Reminding the chief minister that special police observer for West Bengal and Jharkhand Vivek Dube was a retired 1981-batch IPS officer who superannuated as DG, CRPF, the Commission said the action of transferring the four police officers was based on the cumulative feedback from Dube and DEC who oversees electoral process in West Bengal.
“Even the officers who have been posted in their place are of similar seniority and being from West Bengal cadre they are expected to know about field situation of West Bengal,” EC pointed out.
“It is unfortunate that an exercise carried out by ECI only for the duration of the model code of conduct is being labelled as arbitrary, motivated at behest of ruling party at the Centre. It would not be correct and dignified to respond to such averments to prove/burnish its credentials,” EC told the chief minister.
The poll body further stated that the state government had already operationalised EC’s decision on the transfers.
“The action of the government of West Bengal amply demonstrates the willingness of the state administration to conduct free, fair, credible and ethical elections in West Bengal and ECI is appreciated of this irrespective of the factually incorrect innuendos in the letter of 6 April, 2019 (received from the chief minister),” said EC.
EC said it had visited West Bengal on January 31 and February 1 to assess poll preparedness, during which it interacted with political parties, state administration and senior police officers. Based on its review and large number of written complaints received from various political parties, the deputy election commissioner in charge of the state further reviewed the situation in mid-March in Kolkata.
“After this special police observer was appointed for West Bengal,” EC said, adding that such observers were also named for Jharkhand, Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and
Telangana. Similarly, EC had appointed special expenditure observers for 8 states, and West Bengal was not one of them.
“Thus, it is not as if any particular state was being singled out,” it said.