Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, who was removed as State Election Commissioner (SEC), had finally won the hard fought battle against the Jagan government.
In a victory of sorts to Ramesh Kumar and a huge embarrassment to the Jagan government, the senior IAS officer has been finally reinstated as SEC after months of protracted legal battles both in the High Court and Supreme Court.
On Wednesday, Governor Bishwabhusan Harichandan directed the Andhra Pradesh government to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as SEC as per the High Court orders. The Governor has written to Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney to reinstate him immediately as directed by the court. Interestingly, the Governor himself had passed an ordinance promulgated by the Jagan government which had reduced the tenure of SEC to three years from five years.
On July 20, Ramesh Kumar had met the Governor on the directions of the High Court and submitted a memorandum requesting the latter to reinstate him as the SE). Ramesh Kumar had explained to the Governor the HC’s directions at length. Ramesh Kumar had also filed a contempt petition in the High Court against the Andhra Pradesh government for not obeying the court orders to reinstate him following which the HC directed Ramesh Kumar to submit a memorandum to the Governor stating that he has the powers to reinstate him.
In an act of political vendetta, Ramesh Kumar was removed as SEC after he put off elections to the civic body. In a tearing hurry, the state government had appointed retired Tamil Nadu judge 76-year-old Kanagaraju as SEC. The move was challenged by Ramesh Kumar in the High Court.
At least 13 petitioners questioned the sanctity of the ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar as SEC. On May 29, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had struck down the state government’s Ordinance reducing the tenure of the SEC from five years to three years.
Hearing the petition, the High Court had ordered the Andhra Pradesh government to reinstate Ramesh Kumar SEC. However, the Jagan government was not in mood to reinstate him back as SEC and filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the High Court order to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as SEC.
The Supreme Court had thrice refused to give a stay on HC order and observed that the removal of Ramesh Kumar as SEC was not done in a bonafide manner. A three-judge SC bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, had warned the Jagan government not to play with the constitutional functionaries.
Ramesh Kumar also dashed off a letter to Union Home Ministry stating that there was a grave risk to his life and that he and his family members were receiving threat calls from the YSRCP leaders after he had put off elections to civic bodies. The government instead of taking his concern seriously had doubted the credibility of Ramesh Kumar’s letter and ordered a CID probe stating that it was a fraudulent and forged letter.
The Andhra Pradesh government has also allegedly snooped on the movements of Ramesh Kumar when he met BJP leaders Sujana Chowdhary and former minister Kamineni Srinivas at Park Hyatt Hotel in Hyderabad’s posh Banjara Hills. In an attempt to vilify Ramesh Kumar, CCTV footage was leaked to select media.
Ramesh Kumar had also written a letter to Bishwabhusan Harichandan that the Andhra Pradesh government had spying and tracking his movements with the help of the police. In his letter, he had stated that there was 24-hour surveillance outside his Hyderabad residence in Prashasan Nagar.