In yet another big blow to the Jagan government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday turned down the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea to stay the High Court order on reinstating Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner.
In an embarrassment to the Jagan government, the Supreme Court also found fault with the Andhra Pradesh government’s Ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar as SEC saying it was done with a malafide intention.
Hearing the case on Wednesday, a three-bench judges Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy observed that Andhra Pradesh seems to be dishonouring the court verdicts which is not a healthy sign. “Don’t play with the judiciary. Your attitude is wrong,” the Supreme Court observed.
It may be recalled that the Andhra Pradesh High Court had recently ordered the reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar as SEC and set aside the appointment of V Kanagaraj, a retired Madras High Court Judge as SEC and upheld the decision to postpone the elections because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Further, the HC had quashed the state government’s ordinance curtailing the tenure of the SEC from five to three years. Following this, the Andhra Pradesh government had filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the order of the High Court striking down the Andhra Pradesh government’s ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar.
Earlier, Ramesh Kumar had resumed office after AP SEC issued a circular. However, Advocate General Sriram had termed the circular illegal. “The High Court did not directly ask Ramesh Kumar to continue as SEC. The circular had been released by Nimmagadda himself,” Sriram had said.
The standoff between the state government and Ramesh Kumar began after the latter had put off elections to the civic bodies citing the spread of coronavirus. The Jagan government had moved the Supreme Court challenging Ramesh Kumar’s decision to postpone elections. In a slap on the face of Jagan’s government, the apex court had upheld the SEC’s decision to put off elections and allowed the state government to continue its welfare schemes but consult the SEC in matters relating to code violations.
However, in a brazen display of vendetta politics, the Andhra Pradesh government had passed an ordinance amending the Panchayat Raj Act to reduce the State Election Commissioner’s (SEC) tenure from five to three years. This also has been set aside by the High Court.
This is the second major case in which Andhra Pradesh lost its face in the Supreme Court. The SC had recently dismissed the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea challenging a HC order to remove the ruling political party’s colours from government buildings. The AP government had moved the SC despite the High Court initiating contempt proceedings against Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney and other top officials if it did not follow its order. Recently, the Jagan sarkar had axed the Advocate On Record for losing crucial cases in the Supreme Court. The Andhra Pradesh government had removed Advocate on Record G Nageshwar Reddy replacing him with Moazzam Naqvi.