EC Cited Non-existent Rules to Suspend Officer Who Searched PM’s Helicopter?
Does the law apply differently to Prime Minister Narendra Modi?
The Election Commission on Tuesday, April 16 suspended Sambalpur general observer Mohammed Mohsin, a Karnataka cadre IAS officer for acting “contrary to the instructions of the commission regarding SPG protectees”.
It is widely believed that Mohsin was suspended after he searched Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter. The PM had addressed a poll rally in Sambalpur, Odisha on that day. “It has been laid down that SPG protectees are exempted from checking. He should have known the instruction being an observer. The reason for suspension is dereliction of duty,” a source told news agency PTI.
However, one document cited by EC in the suspension letter does not mention any such guideline, and another could not be found on EC website.
In the suspension letter, EC cited two sets of instructions — No. 464/INST/2014/EPS dated April12, 2014 and No.76/Instruction 2019/EEPS/Vol-I dated March 22, 2019 and said that Mohsin was violated the same.
Election Commission of India suspends Mohammed Mohsin, IAS KN (1996), General Observer for Sambalpur, for acting contrary to EC instructions on SPG protectees. Yesterday, PM Modi had addressed a political rally in Sambalpur #Odisha pic.twitter.com/vxn5y3S2yP
— Soumyajit Pattnaik (@soumyajitt) April 17, 2019
However, the 464/INST/2014/EPS instruction does not mention anything related to the searching of the vehicles/convoys of SPG protectees.
Similarly, the ECI Observer Handbooks also does not talk about checking convoys of SPG protectees. No.76/Instruction 2019/EEPS/Vol-I could not be traced on the ECI website.
NewsCentral24x7 tried to contact the EC but our calls went unanswered. This story will be updated once we get a response.
Veteran Congress leader Ahmed Patel pointed out that while SPG protectees cannot personally frisked, there have been numerous instances of their convoys being checked.
There have been instances where during polls EC was allowed to check convoys of both current & the former Congress President
SPG protectees can’t be frisked personally
Why suspend an officer for checking PM’s chopper?
What message is being sent? Law is special for some ?
— Ahmed Patel (@ahmedpatel) April 18, 2019
Generally, ECI instructions permit the vehicles being used for campaigning to be checked to ensure that no electoral offences are being carried out.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala jibed that while the Prime Minister “plays the game of raiding the entire Opposition”, he himself got so scared of a checking that lasted 15 minutes.
जो मोदी जी एजेंसीयों का दुरुपयोग कर पूरे विपक्ष पर छापेमारी का खेल रचते है, वो 15 मिनट की चेकिंग से इतना डर गये कि चुनाव आयोग को अपने ही अफ़सर को हटाना पड़ा!
कर्नाटक में Black Box निकलने के बाद मोदी जी को अपना helicopter चेक कराने में इतनी आपत्ति क्यों?https://t.co/SC7LbP10HY
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) April 18, 2019
Earlier on April 8 in Chitradurga, Karnataka, a suspicious box was seen being offloaded from the PM’s helicopter. The big box was loaded on a private car that was not part of the PM’s convoy.
KS Naveen, President of the Chitradurga unit of the BJP, had told Deccan Herald that the box contained a teleprompter and other electronic equipment. However, since that still does not explain why the box was not carried to the rally ground with the PM’s convoy, Naveen added that it was because the ‘equipment’ had to reach the venue urgently and would have gotten delayed if it travelled as part of the convoy.