Election Commission tells states not to 'victimise' its officials in post-poll period

Election Commission tells states not to victimise its officials in post-poll period

New Delhi: In a strong move aimed at protecting election officials from "victimisation" in the post-poll period, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday directed all states to seek its prior approval before initiating any disciplinary action against state chief electoral officers and other election officials during their tenure, as also up to one year after completion of their stint with the poll panel.

The move in this regard has been taken by the ECI after the incidents of some incidents of "victimisation" of their officials in the post-election period on flimsy grounds.

In a letter addressed to the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries of all states and union territories on Friday, the ECI 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 officers up to Joint Chief Electoral Officer during their tenure and also up to one year from its expiry."

It also said that the state government and the union territory administration will not reduce facilities such as vehicle, security and other facilities or amenities provided to the office of the chief electoral officer for the proper discharge of his or her duties.

"Many 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.

The ECI further stated that in such a scenario, these officers 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 reluctant to join as CEOs and those who are inducted face the uncertainty of fair treatment in post-election phase," it observed.

The EC has also said that 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 a free, fair, impartial and fearless manner.

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