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EC, Government begin talks on Nataraj transfer issue

Wednesday 12 April 2006, by JAYANTH*V.

State Government may effect a change on its own

State Government must act by Wednesday Change may be temporary

CHENNAI: With the notification of elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly due on Thursday, informal consultations are stated to have begun between the State administration and the Election Commission on the controversy over shifting of Chennai’s Police Commissioner. The State Government must act by Wednesday.

The Madras High Court had ruled that the Election Commission’s directive to shift the Police Commissioner was "not binding" on the State Government till the polls were notified. It had also cautioned the administration that once the notification was issued, the Election Commission could seek the transfer of any official involved in election work. As such, the High Court advised the two sides to hold consultations and resolve the issue. Election Commission sources in New Delhi said its lawyers were finalising their strategy to file a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. "We are not looking at the narrow issue of the transfer of one official. But we have to defend the larger issue of Article 324. The powers of the Election Commission under 324 need to be clarified and put beyond doubt because we do not want it to be undermined in any way. Hence it is taking some time to firm up," a senior official explained over telephone.

Asked specifically if there were consultations between the State and the Election Commission on the Police Commissioner’s transfer, he said: "We are informed that informally they are in touch." Before the Election Commission can order the transfer on April 13, it is possible that the State Government may take the initiative, submit a panel of names and effect the change on its own. In any case, this change may be temporary. Once the new Government assumes office, it may want to appoint a city police chief of its choice. Police sources wonder if Chennai will now have its first woman Police Commissioner.

See online : The Hindu

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