J. Venkatesan

Election Commission asks State Government to submit a panel of three names

Names sought by April 18 Formal order after receipt of names

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday asked the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary to send a panel of three names by 5 p.m. on April 18 to enable it to select a suitable officer for replacing the present Chennai Police Commissioner, R. Nataraj, for alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

Commission sources said that the formal direction to transfer Mr. Nataraj would be sent after receiving the panel of names. The Commission had asked the Government to shift Mr. Nataraj, taking a serious view of his statement in an interview to a newspaper: "Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is the perfect example of the ideal woman. I think she is an icon and every woman should look up to her."

The March 14 letter said "the Commission has desired that Mr. R. Nataraj may be transferred from his present post immediately. He may be given any post that does not entail election-related duties."

Subsequently, by a letter dated March 16, the Commission turned down the Government's request for reconsideration of the order.

The Government challenged the order in the Madras High Court, which held that the Commission would have jurisdiction to direct transfer of the officials only after the issue of notification announcing the commencement of the electoral process and not from the date of announcement of the election schedule through a press release.

Despite despite SLP

The sources said the decision seeking a panel of three names was taken notwithstanding the Commission filing a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the High Court judgment.

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