New Delhi : Chief ministers, ministers and political appointees in the five poll-bound states are barred from hearing appeals filed by people before statutory bodies till the election process is over as their decisions can influence voters, the Election Commission has directed.

In a communication sent to Chief Secretaries and Chief Electoral Officers of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab, the Commission said that as per its information, chief ministers, ministers and politically appointed office bearers of statutory bodies continue to hear appeals filed by persons under various prevailing laws in the five states even after the Model Code of Conduct came into force on January 4.

It said hearings by politicians “may have direct or indirect influence on voters and may also disturb the level playing field” during elections. “…all such hearings by…of statutory bodies should be deferred till the conclusion of poll in all constituencies in your state. If any such hearing is required to be held in compliance with the mandatory provisions of law/any court order, such hearing in lieu of Chief Minister/Ministers or Politically appointed office bearers of statutory bodies, should be held by a Secretary level officer nominated by the Chief Secretary…,” the Commission has said.

The poll body has also asked the five states to send their compliance report by Tuesday.              —PTI

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