The controversy surrounding senior Karnataka-cadre IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin, who was suspended by the Election Commission of India for conducting a search on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter in Odisha on April 16, refuses to die. The Election Commission (EC) has approached the Karnataka High Court objecting to the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order which gave relief to Mohsin. Following this, a vacation division bench headed by Justice John Michael Cunha of the Karnataka High Court has issued notices to Mohsin, the state and central governments on the issue.
“Every officer appointed to oversee an election is deemed to be on deputation to the EC and the commission has control over such officer,” ECI submitted to the HC.
“The tribunal has failed to appreciate that Mr. Mohsin [as a GEO] without authority has directed the Executive Magistrate [of Sambalpur] to check the helicopter of the Prime Minister, who is SPG protectee. Mr. Mohsin clearly transgressed his authority and he violated the instructions of Commission,” part of the submission read.
It further added, “The direction for maintaining status quo virtually amounts to staying the order recommending initiation of disciplinary action against Mr. Mohsin and it has a pan-India effect during the election period as other officers on election duty will not take the instructions of the Commission seriously.”
Mohsin who was then deputed by the ECI as a general observer in Sambalpur district of the coastal state was suspended after the incident.
The suspension order had raised a storm in political circles with the opposition raising questions about the neutrality of the Election Commission’s office. Even former Chief Election Commissioner of India, SY Qureshi, has issued a statement questioning the EC’s role.
Mohsin was later asked to report to the Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer on April 19.
Mohsin had got relief from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) after the EC had asked the Karnataka government to take action. The EC said that Mohsin had conducted the search in PM Modi’s helicopter without authority as required for a SPG protectee.
The CAT on April 29 ruled in favour of Mohsin stating that no disciplinary action can be taken against him. The CAT contended that Mohsin’s action was not an overreach as chief ministers of Karnataka and Odisha have faced similar checks.