In the run up to the Bihar Assembly polls, the Election Commission has ordered transfer of officials connected to the conduct of elections, who are either posted in their home districts or have served in places for long, as part of its procedure to ensure free and fair elections.

In a letter addressed to Chief Secretary and Chief Electoral Officer of Bihar, the poll watchdog, however, made it clear that the transfer-posting order will not apply to Sector Officers though they are directly involved with the poll process.

"The Commission, in its task of conducting free and fair elections has followed the consistent policy to ensure that officers, who are connected with the conduct of elections in the state, do not serve in their home districts or places where they have served for long," it said.

The EC said it has decided that no officer — either from the administration or police service — connected directly with elections should be allowed to continue in the present district of posting if she/he is posted in her/his home district and if she/he has completed three years in that district during the last four years or would be completing 3 years on or before November 30, 2015, it said.

The term of the state Assembly expires on November 29.

"However, if prima facie any complaint is received with regard to officers who are indirectly connected with election, the Commission shall take appropriate action against such officials," it warned.

It clarified that officers appointed as Sector Officers, though directly involved in election duties will not be covered under these instructions as their duties are such that they are deployed in field duties where their knowledge of the area or terrain is crucial to their effective performance.

It said senior poll officials should keep a close watch on such officers during the election period to ensure that their performance is "strictly impartial." 

The Commission pointed out that the cut-off date prescribed by it has not been "scrupulously followed" in the past by some state governments.

"The Commission has, therefore, stressed that the state government should strictly follow the cut-off date prescribed for calculating the three year period. Accordingly, the 3 years period shall be reckoned backwards from November 30," it said.