Setback to YSR government: Andhra HC reinstates Ramesh Kumar as SEC

South India

Ramesh Kumar had earned the wrath of the government by postponing local body elections just a few days before polling on the ground of the COVID-19 pandemic

In a major setback to Jagan Mohan Reddy government, Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday (May 19) ordered the reinstatement of N Ramesh Kumar, who earned the wrath of the government by postponing local body elections just a few days before polling on the ground of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the State Election Commissioner (SEC).

A two-judge bench of the court comprising Chief Justice J.K. Maheswari and Justice M Satyanarayana Murthy struck down AP Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance through which it cut short the term of the SEC from five to three years resulting in the removal Ramesh Kumar from that post.

This leads to the exit of Madras High Court retired judge V. Kanagaraj who was appointed as SEC soon after Ramesh Kumar was forced to demit office through the ordinance route.

The High Court found merit in Ramesh Kumar's argument that the power conferred under Article 213 of the Constitution to promulgate ordinances was not an absolute entrustment but conditional upon the satisfaction that the circumstances exist for such an action, a Hindu report said.

The court also agreed with the petitioner's view that the impugned ordinance was in violation of Article 243-K which states that a SEC could not be removed except in the same manner as provided for a judge of a High Court.

The government had maintained it had introduced the ordinance as part of local body election reforms and it was not targeted at Ramesh Kumar.

However, Ramesh Kumar, an IAS officer, had strained relations with the Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who had personally met the governor to complain against him on March 14 hours after the SEC postponed the elections to rural and urban local bodies that were scheduled on March 21 and 23 respectively.

Ramesh Kumar cited precautionary measures required to check the spread of coronavirus for postponing the polls. This had triggered angry reaction from YSR Congress Party government, which accused him of acting at the behest of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The Chief Minister had slammed the SEC for his unilateral decision and alleged that he acted at the behest of leader of opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu, who was unable to digest the fact that YSR Congress Party was heading to sweep the polls.

The High Court and the Supreme Court, however, upheld the SEC decision to postpone the elections because of the COVID-19 pandemic (with inputs from IANS)

Image Credit: India Global News

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