The Election Commission has suspended with immediate effect and until further orders, Mohammed Mohsin, an IAS officer, for not complying with its instructions given in March.

On Tuesday, Mohsin, a General Observer on deputation with the EC, had insisted on inspecting a vehicle in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy in Sambalpur, Odisha. The Special Protection Group (SPG) is said to have initially objected to the search, but it was eventually allowed. This delayed the departure of the PM’s helicopter.

The action on Mohsin, a 1996 batch Karnataka-cadre officer, relates to a circular to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security regarding security procedures to be followed during campaigning for general aviation, chartered aviation operations, chartered aircraft operations and helicopter operations. The Chief Election Officer of Odisha had said he had not acted in conformity with these instructions.

In its order, the Commission said that by virtue of being a General Observer, he is on deputation with the EC and is thus working under its supervision and control. Considering the material available before it and prima facie finding on “dereliction of duty”, the officer is being suspended, the order stated.

Cong condemns move

The action took political colour with Congress leader Ahmed Patel saying there have been instances where during the polls Commission officials were allowed to check convoys of both current and the former Congress presidents, who are also under SPG protection. “SPG protectees can’t be frisked personally. Why suspend an officer for checking the PM’s chopper? What message is being sent? The law is special for some? SPG protection can’t be used as a ruse to keep the PM away from scrutiny,” Patel said.