NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Assembly polls, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has restrained political appointees serving as board administrators of West Bengal municipal corporations, whose term has ended, from discharging their functions until the model code of conduct is in force.
ECI in its order on Saturday said the decision had been taken to avoid a situation wherein critical functions of the urban local bodies were discharged, thereby affecting a level-playing field during the operation of the model code of conduct or had the potential of giving rise to apprehension in the minds of the voters about the fairness and impartiality of the election process.
The poll panel passed the order by using its plenary powers under Article 324.
The Commission directed the Chief Secretary-led committee comprising Principal Secretary, Urban Development, and Principal Secretary Personnel would appoint the government officials to discharge the functions, in accordance with the EC instructions.
"It is expected of Chief Secretary to ensure a level playing field in all other Municipal Bodies in the State of West Bengal by rigorous reviews of their decisions which can disturb the level playing field," ECI said in its order.
The Commission took the decision after it was brought to its notice that the municipal corporations whose terms had ended were being run by the erstwhile chairpersons(s)/mayor(s) who were politically affiliated and had been appointed on completion of their respective elected terms by the Government of West Bengal as Administrator(s)/Head of Board of Administrators.
Elections to the 294-member state Assembly will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. The counting of votes will take place on May 2.