Feb. 18: The Election Commission today “excused” the state government with a word of caution for transferring without its permission IPS officer Surajit Kar Purkayastha who was among those overseeing law and order in the three seats that go to bypolls on February 23.
The commission’s top brass in New Delhi this evening considered a plea from the state government — made by home secretary Basudeb Banerjee — to allow a “post-facto approval” of Purkayastha’s transfer from ADG (law and order) to the post of Calcutta’s police commissioner.
“The commission has decided to issue its post-facto approval of the transfer…. The state’s lapse has been excused according to the administration’s request. The state government has been asked to exercise caution in the future,” state chief electoral officer Sunil Kumar Gupta said in Calcutta today.
Purkayastha replaced R.K. Pachnanda on Thursday, two days after the Garden Reach flare-up in which a police officer was killed.
The poll panel’s decision to allow the state government off the hook with a caution came as a relief to the administration as there was a “strong possibility”, according to Writers’ sources, of a directive to keep the transfer order in abeyance till the byelection process finished with the declaration of results on February 28.
Bypolls would be held in Nalhati (Birbhum), Englishbazar (Malda) and Rejinagar (Murshidabad) on February 23.
Today, home secretary Banerjee said: “It was an inadvertent lapse on our part. We will be more careful in the future…. We’re glad the commission considered our case.”
The home secretary cited “deteriorating law and order in a communally sensitive area” following the shooting of sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury as the reason for Purkayastha’s transfer.
Asked if the administration considered the word of caution by the poll panel an embarrassment, Banerjee said: “Such things can happen.”