Mr Justice P K Misra and Mr Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifullah passed the order while disposing of a petition filed by State Home Secretary and Public Interest Litigations by three former DGPs, Walter Dewaram, Ponparamaguru and Lakshminarayan, challenging the EC's orders.
The Bench said the communications dated March 14, transferring Mr R Nataraj and March 16, directing the State Government to issue a panel of three names for his replacement, need not be considered binding on the State under Article 324 of the Constitution or under Section 13CC and 28 A of the Representation of Peoples Act (RPA).
However, notwithstanding this, as the EC would get ample power to issue directions on transfer of a designated police official after publication of the poll notification under Section 150 of the RPA, it was open to the State Government to take an appropriate decision on the matter in further consultation with the EC, the Bench added.
Recalling sentiments expressed by Mr Justice D Raju while speaking for the Division Bench in a case, the judges said though under law it may not be obligatory for the EC to comply with principles of natural justice while directing transfer of a particular officer, the RPA provisions on consultation with State Government in matters relating to nomination of state officials as Chief Electoral Officer, District Election Officer etc., should not be lost sight of.
The EC should develop a healthy convention of taking the concerned state government into confidence rather than issuing 'diktats' in matters relating to transfer of officials.
It should not be forgotten that the EC and the State Government were two high Constitutional functionaries and not petty officers quibbling over small matters, the Bench observed.
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