Gearing up for the Lok Sabha polls due this summer, the Election Commission wrote to the chief secretaries and chief electoral officers of all the states and Union Territories regarding the transfer and posting officers associated with conducting the elections.

The poll schedule is likely to be announced in the first week of March.

The poll body directed all state governments to transfer officials posted in their home districts and those who have spent three years in a district in the last four years. It further ordered the states to not transfer officers after February 28.

In the letter, the Commission pointed out that polls to Lok Sabha and assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim are due shortly.

It said while the term of the 16th Lok Sabha ends on June 3, the terms of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim assemblies expire on June 18, June 1, June 11 and May 27, respectively.

It is usual for the poll panel to issue such directions ahead of Lok Sabha or assembly polls to ensure that officials do not interfere in the election process in any way and the exercise remains free and fair.

The Commission made it clear that though a large number of employees would be drafted for election duty, it does not want to carry out large-scale dislocation of the state machinery. It said the transfer directive is not applicable to those not directly connected with the elections.

The January 16 direction made it clear that officials against whom it had recommended disciplinary action in the past in any election should not be assigned poll-related duty.

Also, officers against whom criminal cases are pending in courts are barred from getting election work.

About 1.25 lakh personnel are expected to be deployed for the general elections.

(With PTI inputs)