India’s EC lifts suspension of official who checked Modi’s chopper

India’s Election Commission has revoked the suspension of senior Indian Administrative Service officer Mohammed Mohsin, who checked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter during parliamentary election campaign in the eastern state of Odisha. However, the EC barred Mohsin from election duty until further orders, an Election Commission official said on Thursday adding the decision was taken on the basis of the findings of Deputy Election Commissioner Dharmendra Sharma, a senior official who was sent to Odisha’s Sambalpur to probe the incident of checking of Modi’s copter on April 16.

The Commission also asked the Karnataka state government to take disciplinary action against Mohsin, a 1996-batch IAS officer. The EC’s lifting of the suspension came hours after the Central Administrative Tribunal, a quasi-judicial body to hear bureaucrats’ grievances, stayed the Commission’s suspension order. 

The Tribunal held that while reasonable assurances of protection and security must be made available to Special Protection Group (SPG) protectees, it cannot be said “they are eligible for anything and everything”. The Karnataka officer was deployed by the EC in Odisha this month as a general observer when he ordered officials to check Modi’s chopper in Sambalpur on April 16.

The Election Commission suspended Mohsin over what it said were actions contrary to its instructions concerning those protected by the SPG. The commission said it had issued an order in 2014 according to which those guarded by SPG were excluded from checking during polls. The Tribunal took note of the argument by Mohsin’s lawyer who recalled that there had been a news report about heavy packages unloaded from prime minister’s cavalcade being taken away in other vehicle.