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Andhra HC dismisses government plea challenging EC on transfers of intelligence chief, SPs

The EC acted on a complaint from YSR Congress party general secretary and MP V Vijay Sai Reddy on alleged illegal surveillance and tapping of phones of the opposition leaders.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2019 18:17 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Andhra HC,YSR Congress,Election Commission
People walk past the Election Commission of India office building in New Delhi, India March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi(REUTERS)

The Andhra Pradesh high court on Friday refused to stay the orders of Election Commission transferring the state intelligence chief and two superintendents of police, stating it could not interfere in the poll body’s jurisdiction.

A division bench of the high court led by chief justice C Praveen Kumar dismissed the petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government, saying it was not a case for interim relief.

The poll body had ordered the transfer of director general of police (intelligence) AB Venkateshwara Rao, Srikakulam SP Venkata Ratnam and Kadapa SP Rahul Dev Sharma on Tuesday night with immediate effect and attached them to the police headquarters.

The three policemen were directed to hand over their charge to the senior-most officials in their respective offices and barred from taking up any election-related work.

The EC acted on a complaint from YSR Congress party general secretary and MP V Vijay Sai Reddy on alleged illegal surveillance and tapping of phones of the opposition leaders.

The Telugu Desam Party government headed by chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu had objected to the EC’s decision and wondered how the commission could act on a mere complaint from YSRC leaders, without verifying the facts.

In an unusual decision on Wednesday, the state government held back the transfer of the intelligence chief while attaching the two SPs to the headquarters. Simultaneously, it filed an urgent petition in the high court challenging the EC orders.

The high court bench heard the arguments of both the state government and EC.

While advocate general Dammlapati Srinivas, arguing for the government said the EC had not given any opportunity to the officials to defend themselves and present their version. The EC counsel, however, argued that the transfers were not a punishment and well within the rights of the commission.

“As such, there is no need for issuing any notices or seeking their version,” he said.

Venkateshwara Rao will have to follow the transfer orders and report to the headquarters after the high court dismissed the state government’s petition.

The EC asked the government to send a panel of three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers from which it will select a senior officer to appoint as intelligence chief during the election period. The two SPs have already reported to the state police headquarters.

First Published: Mar 29, 2019 16:36 IST