Maharashtra assembly sends election commissioner to jail

March 27th, 2008 - 9:01 pm ICT by admin  

Mumbai, March 27 (IANS) The Maharashtra legislative assembly Thursday awarded a two-day civil custody to State Election Commissioner Nand Lal for a breach of privilege of the house. Shortly after the order, Lal - a Dalit, no-nonsense officer - was picked up by the police from his office in south Mumbai and taken to the Arthur Road Jail where he will spend the next two days in custody.

Arthur Road Jail is the place where notorious criminals, including Abu Salem and others, have been regularly housed.

Lal, one of the seniormost bureaucrats in the state, had accused Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh of being the prime mover behind the privilege motion against him.

The motion was brought against him because he allegedly did “not succumb to the pressure exerted” on him (Lal) to retain the Latur Lok Sabha (lower house) constituency as a general seat after the delimitation commission proposed that it be reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

The state opposition cried foul over the development.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Nitin Gadkari termed it as an “immature” step on the part of the government.

Speaking to some mediapersons before he was taken into custody, Lal termed the development as “political vendetta”.

“I have always been for transparency and wanted to conduct elections as per the law. But they have always tried to pressurise me, but I went about my job unhindered,” he said.

At one point of time, Lal was in the reckoning for the post of state chief secretary.

Several of his decisions ruffled political feathers in the state. A few years ago, his report on illegal constructions in the township of Ulhasnagar, around 75 km from Mumbai in Thane district, virtually led to the break-up of the so-called political-mafia-bureaucratic nexus.

Later, the courts ordered the demolition of several unauthorised buildings.

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