Goa election observers relieved of poll duties

April 13th, 2009 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, April 13 (IANS) Three state election observers, who allegedly availed a free boat cruise ride and complimentary dinner earlier this month, have been relieved of their poll duties, an official in the Goa electoral office said Monday.
Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers Chanchal Tewari and Masood Hassan and Indian Revenue Service officer T.C. Jose have been replaced by IAS officers K.V. Satyanarayan and Suresh Chand and IES officer D.P. Singh.

The official said the three observers were relieved to maintain the neutrality and prestige of the Election Commission.

“We want to be seen and act as an impartial body. The controversy (acceptance of a complimentary cruise ride and dinner) was not healthy,” the official told IANS.

The three officials accompanied by a liaison officer enjoyed a boat cruise along the river Mandovi in the cruise ship Santa Monica, followed by a complimentary dinner on April 4.

The controversy came to light after the GTDC managing director Benjamin Braganza refused to show the dinner as complimentary, stating that “the act was highly objectionable and inappropriate, more so because the officials are attached to the Election Commission in Goa to conduct free and impartial polls”.

The three officials were deputed to Goa by the Election Commission only a couple of days earlier to ensure free and fair polls in the state.

The Supreme Court in a 2005 ruling took a serious view of the state government funds being used for the entertainment of election observers, as it could have serious impact on the impartiality of such observers.

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