The Election Commission of India (ECI) has suspended a Karnataka-cadre IAS officer who was serving as general observer for the Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency in Odisha, for checking a vehicle in the convoy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in breach of the poll guidelines.
Mohammed Mohsin, a 1996-batch IAS officer, was suspended after he checked the vehicle in Sambalpur, where the PM addressed an election rally. It wasn’t immediately clear who was travelling in the vehicle that was checked. The ECI order said Mohsin had not acted in conformity with the ECI’s instructions, concerning those guarded by the SPG.
The order also said the Sambalpur district collector, who is also the district election officer, and the deputy inspector general of police had also sent a written report confirming that Mohsin’s actions had been contrary to the instructions of the EC and qualified as “dereliction of duty”.
“Mohammed Mohsin by virtue of being a general observer is on deputation with the ECI and is working under the supervision and control of the commission. Taking into considerations (the materials available), Commission places Mohammed Mohsin under suspension with immediate effect and until further orders,” the ECI order said.
However, former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi said he believed the rules of the SPG bluebook did not apply once the Model Code of Conduct kicks in. “We were given to understand that during elections, everyone is equal.”