Karnataka duty bound to hold inquiry against official who checked PM Modi’s helicopter: CAT

Bengaluru: The Central Administrative Tribunal’s bench here has held that it is the Karnataka government’s duty to comply with the Election Commission of India’s request for an inquiry against IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin who checked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter last year and directed an explanation from him.

The bench, after hearing the State, which sought to take disciplinary action against the official on the basis of ECI’s recommendation and him challenging it, indicated that if his explanation was found to be unsatisfactory, “a retired Chief Secretary should conduct the inquiry.”

The Karnataka cadre officer, deployed in Odisha as a general observer during last year’s Lok Sabha polls, was suspended for checking Prime Minister Modi’s chopper in Sambalpur of that State in violation of norms for dealing with Special Protection Group protectees.

Suspended for dereliction of duty, the EC later shifted him to the office of the Chief Electoral Officer here from Sambalpur.

After considering a report from a senior poll panel official into the matter, the ECI recommended disciplinary action against Mohsin and his suspension was also revoked.

In its order, the tribunal, comprising judicial member Dr K B Suresh and Administrative member C V Sankar cited ECI’s April 25, 2019 order, in which the poll panel recommended disciplinary action against Mohsin to Karnataka.

“…we hold that there is nothing wrong in the part of the State government and in fact they could not have done anything else as the borrowing authority (ECI) has complained and it is their (State) fundamental duty to comply with the request to conduct an inquiry and find out the truth and revert back,” the order said.

The bench directed the authorities to first seek an explanation from Mohsin and further said: “…we direct that a retired chief secretary of Karnataka cadre should conduct the inquiry, should the government decide to conduct an inquiry after due and unbiased examination of the explanation given by the applicant.”

The tribunal said the borrowing authority, the poll panel in the present matter, has no disciplinary control over the person deputed except under certain situations that are limited in scope.

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