AP moves Supreme Court challenging HC verdict on reinstatement of state election commissioner
The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the state high court’s orders reinstating retired IAS officer Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner (SEC).
In a special leave petition filed in the apex court, the state government challenged the high court’s order striking down the ordinance promulgated last month which sought to reduce the tenure of the SEC from five years to three years and appointing a judicial officer of the rank of a high court judge as the SEC.
The SLP is expected to come up for hearing on Tuesday or Wednesday, a state government official familiar with the development said.
Meanwhile, chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is leaving for New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the issue with legal experts in New Delhi to present the government’s case in the Supreme Court. He would also be meeting Union home minister Amit Shah and other ministers to discuss certain issues pertaining to the state, the official quoted above said.
On Friday, the high court bench comprising chief justice JK Maheshwari and senior judge Satyanarayana Murthy also struck down two government orders that followed the ordinance removing Ramesh Kumar as SEC and appointing retired judge of Madras high court V Kanagaraj in his place. The high court ruled that Kanagaraj’s appointment was illegal and Ramesh Kumar be allowed to continue for the rest of his tenure.
Challenging the high court judgment, the Andhra Pradesh government argued that it had all the powers to appoint the SEC and the appointment of Justice Kanagaraj was done as per the statute. It appealed to the court to set aside the orders of the high court and allow Justice Kanagaraj to continue as the SEC.
The state government, however, ignored the circular issued by Ramesh Kumar, soon after the judgment, that he was resuming charge as the SEC as per the court order and that he would discharge his duties fairly and impartially as he had done in the past and as mandated.
State advocate general Sriram Subrahmanyam said Ramesh Kumar had no right to resume charge as the SEC as the high court had not mentioned when he should be reinstated. “There are several ambiguities in the high court judgment and we are filing an SLP in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the high court order,” the advocate general said.
Ramesh Kumar, however, said the high court had clearly directed the state government to restore his position as SEC and allowed him to continue in office until completion of his tenure which ends on March 31, 2021.
“In the wake of the high court judgment, Justice Kanagaraju ceases to hold office as SEC. Since the office of SEC, a Constitutional post, cannot remain vacant, my position becomes status quo ante and I stand restored to the office of the SEC. Hence, I resumed the charge and proceedings were issued accordingly,” he said.
Stating that the stand taken by the government was illegal, he said he was contemplating moving the high court again seeking restoration of his position.