ECI suspends special secretary in Odisha CM's office for poll interference

The BJP had earlier alleged that Kutey interfered in the election process and sought that his cell phone be seized for verification of call detail records.
Election Commission of India office in New Delhi.
Election Commission of India office in New Delhi.Photo | PTI

BHUBANESWAR: In a significant development, the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Tuesday ordered the suspension of DS Kutey, special secretary to the chief minister’s office (CMO), on charges of unduly interfering in the conduct of the elections.

The 1997 batch IPS officer in the Additional DG rank has been asked to report by 3 pm on May 29, a letter by ECI secretary Rakesh Kumar to the Odisha chief electoral officer (CEO) said.

Similarly, the poll panel asked IG (CM security) Ashish Singh to present himself for detailed medical examination by a special medical board constituted by the director of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar not later than May 30.

Singh has been on medical leave since May 4. The CEO has been directed to coordinate to ensure that the director of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar constitutes the special medical board to ascertain illness and treatment being undergone by Singh. The report on Singh by the CEO will have to reach the ECI by May 31.

The ECI letter said action on the two IPS officers was taken based on a communication from the CEO on May 27 in which he had made certain averments indicating undue influence being exercised by the two officers directly connected with conduct of election work.

The ECI said this was also corroborated by various other inputs received from the field from time to time. The election panel also directed that expeditious investigation under due process of law will continue unhindered in the case registered against BJP MLA candidate from Khurda for damaging an EVM in a polling booth.

The BJP MLA candidate in question, Prasanta Jagadev, was arrested on May 25 on allegations of vandalizing the EVM and manhandling poll officials at Bolagarh.

However, the BJP on the day claimed that the MLA candidate was not involved in the vandalism basing on a video of the polling booth which is now being verified by the district officials.

The CEO was also directed to provide chief secretary the draft chargesheet to be issued to Kutey. The chief secretary has also been asked to arrange to issue chargesheet by competent authority under relevant service rules, not later than 5pm on May 30, 2024.

The saffron party had earlier alleged that Kutey interfered in the election process and sought that his cell phone be seized for verification of call detail records. A memorandum too was submitted to the ECI in this regard. On the other hand, Singh was shifted from his IG (central range) post by the ECI last month after allegations of involvement in the elections. He later went on medical leave.

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