New Delhi: Using its constitutional powers, the Election Commission on Saturday (March 20) restrained political appointees holding the office of administrators in municipal corporations in West Bengal on an appointment basis after the end of their elected term, from participating in functions of the board during the time poll code is in place.

In a statement, the poll panel said it has issued the order to avoid a situation that may give rise to legitimate apprehensions in the mind of voters about the fairness and impartiality of the election process.

The panel said a committee headed by state chief secretary and principal secretaries of urban development, and personnel as members should appoint government officials, keeping in view EC’s instructions, to discharge the functions of the administrators or head of the board of administrators during the period the model code of conduct is in place in the poll-bound state.

“It is expected of the chief secretary to ensure a level playing field in all other municipal bodies in the state of West Bengal by rigorous reviews of their decisions which can disturb the level playing field,” the statement citing the order said.

The state government has been asked to send compliance of the order by 10 am on Monday.

The statement said according to the order, there would be a temporarily restrain on “such political appointees, who are holding the office of administrators/ head of board of administrators in the municipal corporations of West Bengal on appointment basis after the end of their elected term, from participating in/exercising the functions of the board during the period the Model Code of Conduct is in force.”

West Bengal goes to elections in eight phases beginning March 27. The counting of votes will take place on May 2 along with Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

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