In a letter to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary, the Election Commission of India has ordered the suspension of Narendra Prasad Pandey, an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre. Pandey who was deployed as an observer for West Bengal Assembly polls and has been accused by EC, of grave charges including “misconduct with district officials” and misuse of official position among other charges.
The Telegraph reported that the suspension order from EC secretary Malay Mallick to Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari stated that Narendra Prasad Pandey, IAS (UP:2010) “shall be placed under immediate suspension for his misconduct with district officials, misuse of official position and indulging in behaviour unbecoming of an observer appointed by the commission”. Disciplinary action and “a charge sheet before March 30 have also been ordered” under India Service Rules.
Pandey was appointed as a general observer in Kashipur assembly constituency of West Bengal. He was removed from the post by the Commission on March 22 “due to his alleged misconduct in order to prevent any flare-up of the situation and to save the dignity of the institution of observer,” wrote the EC. According to the Telegraph, “the emergency action was taken after prima facie information suggested overreach by the officer.” It has been reported that Pandey’s actions “compromised the dignity of the institution of observers”, and that he was removed “to prevent any flare-up of the situation”.
Serious accusations were reported by the Telegraph which quoted a senior official saying that Pandey “had made lewd proposals to several women officers. Although observers have no business issuing orders to other officials, he had the temerity to attach the services of a woman officer to himself. After we spoke to her, we learnt that he had made advances towards several women officers within the fortnight that he was posted there. Such was the gravity of the situation that he had to be immediately flown back to Uttar Pradesh.”
However, Pandey, a special secretary in the agricultural production commissioner’s branch, told the Telegraph that: “The order does not mention the charge (sexual harassment) that you are making. All I can say at this stage is that I have done nothing wrong.”