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EC steps in to protect CEOs, officials from ‘victimisation’

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA 

New Delhi, Jan 16: Taking note of some incidents of “victimisa-tion” of state Chief Electoral Officers and other election officials in the postelection period on flimsy grounds,

 the Election Commission has directed all states to seek its prior approval before initiating any dis-ciplinary action against such offi-cers during their tenure, as also up to one year after completion of their stint with the poll panel.

 In aletter addressed to the Cabinet Secretary and Chief Secretaries of all states and Union Territories, the EC said it has noted some incidents of “victimisation” of CEOs and ad-ditional,

 joint, deputy and assistant CEOs in the post-election period. “Many a times they are targeted for political vendetta by charging them with disciplinary cases on flimsy grounds for their earlier tenures in the state government after the completion of their tenure. 

An environment of fear is created to convey that the upright, steadfast and sincere officers can be taken to task at any time, on the flimsiest of the grounds,

” the Commission noted. It said in such a scenario, these& Beers are not only “demotivated but also their morale is greatly reduced, which severely affect their efforts to ensure free and fair elections”. “Left to go on unfettered,

 it causes a situation where officials are re-luctant to join as CEOs and those who are inducted face the uncer-tainty of fair treatment in post-election phase,” it observed. The EC said it is of considered view that positive protection to election officials from motivated harassment is essential to enable them in carrying out the electoral functions in free, fair, 

impartial and fearless manner. In its directions, the Commission said “the state/UT governments shall invariably obtain prior approval of the Commission before initiating any disciplinary action against the Chief Electoral Officers and other of ficers up to Joint Chief Electoral Officer during their tenure and also up to one year from its expiry.

” It also said that the state gov-ernment and the union territory ad-ministration will not reduce facil-ities such as vehicle, security and other facilities or amenities pro-vided to the office of the chief elec-toral officer for proper discharge of his or her duties. The letter pointed out that the matter of taking ac-tion against any officer on election duty was subjected to the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. 

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