Alleged security lapse: HC orders collector's transfer

The bench has also asked the EC to act against assistant district electoral officer. (DH File Photo)

Madras High Court on Saturday ordered the transfer of Madurai District Collector Dr S Natarajan on a plea by CPM candidate from the temple town, Su Venkatesan, alleging security lapse at the storage room where records of the April 18 Lok Sabha polls are kept.  

Venkatesan, a celebrated writer and Sahitya Akademi winner, had moved the Madras High Court on Friday seeking a detailed probe by the Election Commission of India (EC) on the entry of a woman tahsildar last week into the storage room, where records are kept. 

The incident had created a major uproar on April 20 when Sargunam, the lady official in question who has now been placed under suspension, allegedly entered into the storage room, located next to the strong room where the EVMs are kept. 

Officials have maintained that no one entered the strong room, but the CPM has been alleging inaction on the part of the district collector since “he did not turn up” at the campus when the party cadres protested on the day the issue came out in public.

A division bench of justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad ordered the EC to transfer Dr Natarajan from Madurai, who is also the returning officer for Madurai Lok Sabha seat, while questioning why the Chief Electoral Officer, Satyabrata Sahoo, did not take action against officials against whom allegations have been leveled.

The bench has also asked the EC to act against assistant district electoral officer. 

The petitioner in his plea alleged that the tahsildar trespassed into the storage room on April 20 without any authority and remained there for three hours. 

Alleging that the “unlawful incident” would not have occurred without the knowledge of the Returning Officer, the petitioner sought an interim direction for appointment of a special observer of the rank of an IAS officer for counting the postal ballots.

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