The Central Administrative Tribunal on Thursday reversed the Election Commission’s order to suspend an upright IAS officer Mohammed Mohsin for checking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helicopter in Odisha’s Sambhalpur this month. However, as more details emerge, not only did the CAT make scathing observations on the Election Commission, but it also made a fresh revelation, which is in sharp contradiction to what was alleged against Mohsin earlier.
One of the reasons behind suspending Mohsin was stated to be the IAS officer’s decision to exceed his brief to order the inspection of Modi’s helicopter even though he happens to be an SPG protectee and, therefore, enjoys the exemption.
However, the observation made by the CAT in its order on Thursday read, “There seems to be a circular regarding SPG protectees that they to be exempt from certain examinations on certain grounds. We will not go into the SPG protectee guidelines as per the bluebook right now but the Rule of Law must also prevail.”
It went on to add, “The factual basis of the allegation seems to be that the SP of Sambhalpur and one Shri Uday of SPG had agreed for videography of the helicopter from a distance. Applicant (Mohsin) also seems to have visited the place and apparently before any videography had taken place had left the place. The applicant claims that he had advised them to videograph the process only with the advice of the SPG officials. Later on the PSG seems to have complained the Election Commission that the SPG protectees must be exempt from all such intrusions into their private life.”
The Election Commission, while ordering to suspend Mohsin, had made no mentions of the videography part.
The CAT also made references to the the mysterious trunk reportedly being carried in Modi’s helicopter during his visit to Karnataka. It said, “..During election process while reasonable assurances of protection and security must be made available to SPG protectees, it cannot be said that they are eligible for anything and everything and, as pointed out by the learned counsel for the applicant, there was a news report indicating that heavy packages were taken away from the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s cavalcade into another vehicle and sped away in another vehicle in the State of Karnataka.”
It said that questions ‘were raised about it but apparently no action followed.’ It said, “….Election officials have checked private vehicles of Chief Minister Shri Kumaraswamy more than once and no action followed. He (Mohsin) would say that even the Chief Minister of Odisha’s vehicles were also checked and, therefore, he laments that something unseen and unheard of is being propagated.”
The Election Commission had come under considerable criticism for making up a non-existent provision to save Modi from embarrassment. The topic had gained momentum also because the Congress had accused Modi of using his helicopter for transporting black money. The party had approached the Election Commission demanding a probe into a large trunk that was being shifted from Modi’s helicopter to a nearby parked Innova car in Karnataka.
The CAT will hear this matter on 3 June to settle the case ‘once and for all.’