Updated: Jul 19
The Elections Commission (EC) on Thursday demanded an explanation from the chief secretary of Punjab and the deputy commissioner of Sangrur, claiming that their request amounted to an "effort to unfairly interfere with the electoral process and influence a certain class of voters." ". It claimed that the chief secretary's request at 4:05 PM in response to the returning officer's letter amounted to an "effort to improperly interfere with the election process and influence specific classes of voters by informing them to vote faster or wait for a time extension." ".
The panel stated that it disapproved of the officers' actions throughout the election process. The EC expressed "displeasure" over the "unwarranted correspondence making request for extension of poll timing on the poll day for grounds which pre-existed even during the announcement of the by-election" in a strongly worded letter to the chief electoral officer of Punjab. According to officials, the argument made for the extension was that people were still working in the paddy fields. It was a known fact at the time the notification was sent.
"I have been directed to state that detailed explanation from the Chief Secretary and Returning Officer shall be called regarding reasons and circumstances and new facts that arose in the afternoon of election day necessitating writing of such letter," the letter from an EC secretary stated. "Commission shall take further decision on initiating disciplinary proceedings tomorrow (Friday) at 1.00 pm." After Bhagwant Mann just won a seat in the Punjab assembly elections and was elected as the state chief minister, the Sangrur Lok Sabha byelection was required.