Goa: Non-IAS officers serving as district magistrates questioned

January 24th, 2012 - 5:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Jan 24 (IANS) Election officials in Goa have questioned state administrative service officers, instead of those from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), functioning as district magistrates and district returning officers (DROs).

Joint chief electoral officer N.S. Navti admitted to reporters Tuesday that while it was improper for state administrative service officers to serve as district magistrates and DROs during polls, he was helpless until someone filed a specific complaint against it.

“If you ask me, it is improper. According to standing instructions, the posts of district magistrate and DRO have to be held by IAS officers. It is up to the chief secretary to make the appointment. And we cannot act unless we have a specific complaint,” Navti said.

The cadre posts of ‘district magistrates’ governing the state’s two districts - North Goa and South Goa - are currently manned by two Goa civil service (GCS) officers Mihir Vardhan and Sandeep Jacques.

Navti’s claim that there was no specific complaint vis-a-vis the appointment of Vardhan and Jacques as key poll officials has, however, been disputed by two civil society organizations, who have petitioned the election authorities for the replacement of the two officials by IAS counterparts.

Sudeep Tamhankar, convenor of the Goa Bus Owners Association (GBOA) had petitioned the CEO’s office demanding the replacement of both officers.

“Sandeep Jacques, the collector of South Goa was officer on special duty to the chief minister whose constituency Margao is also in south Goa. When he was excise commissioner two years back, the finance department headed by the chief minister was probing him for an excise scam,” Tamhankar said, adding that there was a conflict of interest as far as Jacques’ appointment as DEO was concerned.

Friends of Good Governance (FOGG), in a petition to the Election Commission of India (ECI) dated Jan 17, said both district magistrates, “eagerly awaiting their inclusion in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) at some future point of time, acted in some undue haste in removing the hoardings which were only spreading a message against corruption, price rise, unemployment and bad governance”.

FOGG Spokesperson Giriraj Pai Vernekar said: “It is unfortunate that both district collectors are non-IAS officers when in fact the post of the collector is a scheduled post meant to be held by IAS officers under the rules.”

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