Amid reports that he may have taken favours from the Gujarat government even after taking up a constitutional post, Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti denied the allegations saying he had not sought favours from the government.
The Wire had reported last week that documents related to a case filed by a senior police officer at the Central Administrative Tribunal, Guwahati bench, showed that Joti had retained the bungalow allotted to him in Ahmedabad by the Gujarat government even after becoming CEC.
Denying these allegations Joti told The Times of India, "I requested the Gujarat government to allow me to keep possession of the house in the Dafnala area of Ahmedabad as I could not have lived with my wife for a year in Delhi's Gujarat Bhavan. I have paid the rent as per Gujarat government norms."
Joti also added that he had not taken "any undue favours from the government".
Joti became an election commissioner in 2015, and is said to have retained the bungalow in Ahmedabad till 2016. As an official who holds a constitutional position, Joti is not supposed to take any favours from any government.
The reports have hence raised questions Joti's ability to maintain a neutral stand.
These reports assume further significance given that the Gujarat Assembly polls have been delayed, and the Opposition has alleged it was to favour Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gujarat government.
Joti had defended the decision to not announce poll dates for Gujarat saying it would affect the flood relief operations in the state.
The Hindu had quoted him as saying, "When the model code of conduct is in force, it is not possible to keep them from election duty. All government officials, including Gram Panchayat and Taluk level officials, have to be deployed for elections."
Joti became the CEC in 2017 succeeding Nasim Zaidi. Joti retired as the Gujarat Chief Secretary in January 2013. He was also the Secretary in the Industry, Revenue and Water Supply Departments in the State.