New Delhi: The Election Commission has directed the administrator of the Union Territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu to withdraw a show cause notice he had issued to a senior IAS officer.
Highly-placed EC sources told ThePrint that it had directed the administrator, Praful Khodabhai Patel, to withdraw the notice he had issued to Dadra & Nagar Haveli collector Kannan Gopinathan for “not complying” with his instructions on various “official works”. Gopinathan, who holds charge of various other departments, is also the returning officer for Dadra & Nagar Haveli in the ongoing general elections.
The decision comes to light a few days after the EC controversially suspended Karnataka cadre IAS officer Mohammad Mohsin for checking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter for cash.
Who is Patel?
Patel is a former BJP leader who served as home minister under Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat chief minister. He was appointed the administrator of both the UTs in 2016 by the NDA government, in a departure from the earlier practice of appointing only IAS officers to the post.
ThePrint had earlier reported that despite the fact that the roles of administrators aren’t ceremonial like those of governors in states, they are exempt from the Model Code of Conduct.
The notice and its aftermath
Patel issued the notice to Gopinathan last month. The notice said Gopinathan’s behaviour was “unbecoming of an officer”, and sought an explanation on why his conduct should not be reflected in his annual performance report.
Gopinathan soon complained to the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Dadra & Nagar Haveli, indicating pressure from the Administrator. The CEO, in turn, referred it to the EC, which asked Patel to withdraw his show cause notice.
“The administrator has withdrawn the notice, but said that the notice was served to the officer not in his capacity as collector, but as secretary of the power department of Dadra & Nagar Haveli for not complying with certain instructions,” said an EC source aware of the development.
‘Political appointments can lead to such situations’
A senior government official, who has served as the CEO of a state in the past, said on the condition of anonymity that political backgrounds of governors or administrators can lead to such situations.
“Ideally, the EC’s decisions should be equal for all political leaders, and not selective, depending on the politician in question,” the official said.