ECI shakes up district administration in four states, transfers non-encadred DMs & SPs

Lok Sabha Elections 2024, the Election Commission of India (ECI)

In a move aimed at ensuring a level playing field in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2024, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued transfer orders for non-cadre officers holding key positions as District Magistrates (DM) and Superintendents of Police (SP) in four states—Gujarat, Punjab, Odisha, and West Bengal.

The ECI's decision, which underscores its commitment to fairness and the integrity of the electoral process, was announced today. The Commission emphasized that the posts of DM and SP are typically held by officers from the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, respectively. This action follows a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar, alongside Election Commissioners Gyanesh Kumar and Sukhbir Singh Sandhu. The Commission reiterated its dedication to ensuring fairness in the electoral process, a sentiment echoed by CEC Rajiv Kumar.

The officers affected by the transfers include the SPs of Chhota Udaipur and Ahmedabad Rural districts in Gujarat, the SSPs of Pathankot, Fazilka, Jalandhar Rural, and Malerkotla districts in Punjab, the DM of Dhenkanal, and the SPs of Deogarh and Cuttack Rural in Odisha, as well as the DM of Purba Medinipur, Jhargram, Purba Bardhaman, and Birbhum districts in West Bengal.

Furthermore, the Commission has directed the transfer of the SSP of Bathinda in Punjab and the SP of Sonitpur in Assam due to their familial association with elected political representatives. These transfers are preventive measures aimed at dispelling any concerns regarding the impartiality or perceived compromise of the administration.

As per the directive, state governments are required to promptly transfer nonencadred officers from their current roles as DM and SP/SSP and submit a compliance report to the Commission.

In a related development on March 18, the Election Commission of India issued orders for the removal of Home Secretaries in six states—Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand—a move aimed at upholding the principles of free, fair, and transparent elections.