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Officials’ exile ends

Calcutta, May 19: The Bengal government today started the process of reinstating the 30-odd officers removed by the Election Commission on charges of inaction and bias towards the ruling establishment.

The state personnel and administrative reforms department today issued an order reinstating IAS officer Sanjay Bansal and WBCS officers Arindam Dutta and Alokesh Prasad Roy as the district magistrate of North 24-Parganas, the additional district magistrate of West Midnapore and the additional district magistrate of South 24-Parganas, respectively.

The three officers are expected to take charge tomorrow.

The order to reinstate IPS officers, such as R.K. Yadav, Humayun Kabir and S.M.H. Meerza, was issued late this evening.

While Yadav will go back to being the police chief of Malda, Kabir will return to his earlier post in Murshidabad and Meerza will be the police superintendent of Burdwan.

Nabanna officials said the order for the block development officers of Bishnupur I, Budge Budge I and Egra II was likely to be issued tomorrow.

“The chief minister was unhappy with the removal of the officers and had asked the chief secretary to issue orders that they be reinstated after the Lok Sabha polls…. She has kept her promise,” said a senior official of the personnel and administrative reforms department.

Commission sources in Delhi said this evening that the poll panel was unlikely to oppose to the reinstatement as the Lok Sabha poll process was over.

“The commission, in all likelihood, is going to let this pass. There is no violation of the model code. It was lifted yesterday. On the ethical question and the validity of the April 10 order in Bengal, no decision has been taken yet,” said a senior director of the commission.

The commission had on April 7 removed seven officials from election duty and followed it up with the removal of three BDOs and 20 police officers after Opposition parties complained that they were biased towards the state’s ruling party. The poll panel transferred another police superintendent to fill a vacant post.

For two days, the Bengal government adopted a defiant stance, with Mamata Banerjee alleging a “conspiracy” and daring the commission to arrest her, before accepting the advice not to get into a showdown.

On April 10, a day after the state complied with the commission directive, state chief secretary Sanjay Mitra issued an order saying the officials would be reinstated after the election process ended.

The poll panel wrote to Mitra on April 25, asking him to explain why he had issued the order without consulting it.

Citing a 2013 Karnataka High Court order, Mitra had replied that he had not violated the model code.

Officials in Nabanna today expressed dismay at the commission’s reaction to the government order.

“The commission is yet to declare its decision on Mitra’s April 10 order. The chief minister did exactly what she wanted,” said a senior Nabanna official.