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No truth in YSRCP claim: Ramesh Kumar

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State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Wednesday said there is no truth in the YSRCP leaders’ claim that the SEC has not consulted the Jagan government in calling for the all-party meeting on conducting local body elections. Ramesh Kumar also held a meeting with Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney.

Addressing a press conference, Ramesh Kumar said the SEC has consulted the Health and Family Welfare Secretary on holding local body elections. Ramesh Kumar pointed out that he held detailed discussions with the Health and Family Welfare Secretary and health commissioner on the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the state.

He said more than 11 political parties took part in the all-party meeting on elections. The parties, mainly the TDP, BJP, Jana Sena Party, Congress, Communist parties gave their suggestions in conducting the elections. He said the parties mainly wanted the previous election notification be canceled since the ordinance brought by the YSRCP has not become law and urged that the SEC to issue a new election notification. However, six political parties, mainly the YSRCP, did not attend the all-party meeting.

Ramesh Kumar’s clarification comes in the wake of comments made by YSRCP Sattenpalli MLA Ambati Rambabu who claimed that the SEC did not consult Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney or Health and Family Welfare Secretary on holding local body elections. Although the SEC informed all political parties that a meeting will be held on October 28 at 10.30 am to discuss local body polls, Ambati Rambabu claimed that the YSRCP government was not consulted on the issue, which was a violation of a verdict given by the Supreme Court. The meeting was attended by representatives of all political parties, including TDP, CPM, CPI, BSP, and Congress.

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Ramesh Kumar’s tactical plan on local body polls

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Usually, the State Election Commission in any state calls for a joint meeting of the political parties to take their views before holding an election. Now, things are turning more and more complicated in Andhra Pradesh. Everything is not alright between SEC Ramesh Kumar and the YCP Government. As a result, the SEC has decided not to hold a joint meeting for the political parties.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar has asked the political parties to meet him separately and also submit their suggestions in written form as well on restarting local body elections. In the past, oral representations used to be made to the SEC. Already, YCP Ministers and MLAs have made their party’s stand clear that the Government was not interested to hold the elections as long as Ramesh Kumar is the SEC.

However, Mr. Ramesh Kumar is conducting the meetings with the parties’ representatives from 10 a.m. on Wednesday at his office in Vijayawada. MLA Ambati Rambabu is taking part on behalf of the YCP. The TDP will be represented by its AP President Atchannaidu. Congress, CPM and CPI representatives will also attend.

Political circles are eagerly waiting to see if the YCP would launch attacks on the SEC during this meeting as well. Another point of curiosity is the SEC is an autonomous body and it can take independent decisions based on the suggestion of majority parties.

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Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar knocks HC doors again

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State election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has once again knocked the doors of the High Court.

On Wednesday, Ramesh Kumar filed a petition in the High Court stating that the Andhra Pradesh government led by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has not been releasing funds to the state election commission.

In his plea, Ramesh Kumar noted that the state government has put on hold the release of funds necessary for the functioning of the state election commission and appealed to the High Court to order the Andhra Pradesh government to immediately release the funds.

Further, Ramesh Kumar contended that stopping release of funds to the election commission is violative of Article 43 of the Constitution. Ramesh Kumar made principal secretaries of finance and Panchayat Raj as respondents.

Hearing the petition, the High Court asked the election commission to file an affidavit giving detailed information on the problems faced by the election commission. Further, the High Court observed that the Election Commission is a constitutional body which is entitled to get funds from the government.

Immediately after Ramesh Kumar filed the petition in the High Court, the Andhra Pradesh government has released Rs 39 lakh funds to the state election commission.

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 retired IAS officer was reinstated as SEC after a prolonged and bitter legal battle with the Jagan Reddy government. At times, he even received personal threats to himself and his family from the ruling party sympathisers. It also forced him to approach the Central Government to get security from the Central forces.

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New troubles begin for SEC Ramesh Kumar, orders probe

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Not all is well even after the Jaganmohan Reddy government reinstated Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner. New troubles began. To his utter disbelief, Ramesh Kumar found out that the door leading from his SEC chamber to his subordinate officers was closed down. What more, he found out that the door was shut down permanently just before he arrived to take over for the second time.

Obviously, there were enough signals that Ramesh Kumar would not be allowed to function smoothly. At the same time, there was no aggressive attack from the ruling YCP activists and admirers. This was indeed a relief to Ramesh Kumar. But still, the constant embarrassment remained a concern.

Not to take a lenient view, Ramesh Kumar immediately ordered a probe to find out who was responsible for the closure of the free passage between his chamber and the officers’ cabins. Some subordinates said that the changes in the office structure were made following advice from the Vaastu expert. However, Ramesh Kumar took a serious view of it since Vaastu was obviously used an excuse.

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Finally, Ramesh Kumar takes charge as AP SEC

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Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has finally taken charge as the State Election Commissioner. The retired IAS officer got his reappointment after a prolonged and bitter legal battle with the Jagan Reddy government. At times, he even received personal threats to himself and his family from the ruling party sympathisers. It also forced him to approach the Central Government to get security from the Central forces.

The Government came down and reinstated Ramesh Kumar only after the Governor received the verdict from the High Court for reappointing him as the SEC as per the laws. A near Constitutional crisis has set in. But at the last minute, the Jagan regime changed its tack and followed the instructions of the Governor.
Today’s taking charge by Ramesh Kumar was smooth considering the fact that the YSRCP leaders were also silent in view of the Governor’s approval for the 3 Capitals bills. In fact, immediately after the Governor asked for reinstatement, Ramesh Kumar faced lots of personal attacks on social media once again. However, he went on and took charge today amid cooled down political temperatures.

Ramesh Kumar, after taking charge, said he has assumed office at the instructions of the Government. He asserted that the SEC was an autonomous institution which would act by the rules and regulations and not by whims and fancies. Ramesh said he was expecting support and cooperation from the Government to carry on his duties.

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Reinstate Ramesh Kumar by July 31: SC to AP govt

For the fourth time in less than a month, the Supreme Court on Friday yet again refused to give a stay on the Andhra Pradesh High Court order over reinstatement of Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner.

In a big victory to Ramesh Kumar and a huge embarassment to the Jagan government, the apex court passed the orders to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as SEC by next July 31 as per the High Court orders.

Hearing a petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government seeking a stay on the contempt filed by Ramesh Kumar in the High Court, the Supreme Court on Friday had questioned the government why it had failed to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner depiste the directions from Governor Bishwabhushan Harichandan as per High Court orders.

Senior advocate Harish Salve presented the arguments in the Supreme Court on behalf of Nimmagadda Ramesh. Harish Salve brought to the notice of the apex court that his client Ramesh Kumar had filed a contempt petition in the High Court stating that the Andhra Pradesh government was not implementing the court’s order in restoring him as the SEC.

Harish Salve also informed the apex court that the Andhra Pradesh High Court had asked Ramesh Kumar to meet the Governor seeking his restoration as the SEC. Accordingly, Ramesh Kumar had met the Governor and submitted a memorandum requesting the latter to reinstate him as the SEC. Despite this, the Andhra Pradesh government had failed to implement the orders of the Governor as per the High Court orders, Harish Salve argued.

Hearing Harish Salve’s arguements, the Supreme Court had questioned the government counsel as to why such a situation arise in the first place.

“Why did the situation arise for the Governor to direct the government to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as SEC. We are in complete knowledge of the case. It is a matter of serious concern that the government has not reinstated Ramesh Kumar despite the Governor writing a letter,” the Supreme Court observed. With the Supreme Court’s latest observations, Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar’s reinstatement as SEC is a shut and close case.

This is the fourth time that the apex court had pulled up the Andhra Pradesh governmment. Earlier, hearing a Special Leave Petition filed by the AP government seeking the Supreme Court to give a stay on HC verdict to reinstate Ramesh Kumar, a three-judge SC bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, had warned the government not to play with the constitutional functionaries.

Further, Harish Salve also informed the Supreme Court that several YSRCP leaders were lowering the dignity of the judiciary by making direct attack on the judges and the courts. Hearing this, the apex court had sought news clippings and videos of all those YSRCP leaders who made scandalous remarks against the judges and the judiciary.

It may be recalled that YSRCP Lok Sabha member Nandigam Suresh, party chief whip Srikanth Reddy and party leader and former MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan made scandalous comments against the Andhra Pradesh High Court judges over the reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar as SEC. The Andhra Pradesh government chief whip attributed motives to the court stating that former chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu had been managing the High Court.

“Who is paying crores of rupees by the hour to the judges? Is it not Chandrababu Naidu. Is it not true that the TDP had been funding Ramesh Kumar with crores of rupees to pay off judges,” he asked.

This is not the first that the YSRCP leaders made comments that tend to undermine people’s confidence in administration of justice, bring or tend to bring the court and judges into disrepute and disrespect.

On May 20, the High Court had initiated contempt proceedings against 49 individuals, including YSR Congress Lok Sabha member Nandigam Suresh and party leader Amanchi Krishna Mohan for attributing motives to judges and lowering the dignity of the High Court. Both the YSRCP leaders made serious allegations against sitting judges of the High Court which amounts to interference with administration of justice.

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Ramesh Kumar wins, Governor directs Jagan govt to reinstate him as SEC

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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.

Political vendetta

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.

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Ramesh Kumar meets Governor, requests for reinstatement

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Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has met Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan and requested for his reinstatement as per the High Court orders. Ramesh Kumar discussed his issue with the Governor for over half an hour. He informed the Governor about the court’s order and the need for his reinstatement as the State Election Commissioner. Mr. Harichandan has assured to look into the representation given by the former SEC. However, reports say that the Governor is considering to take legal opinion on the Ramesh Kumar issue.

Mr. Harichandan is stated to have been especially cautious in view of the ongoing tussle between the YSRCP government and the High Court on a variety of issues. At the same time, he will also have to consider the issue of the Jagan Reddy government knocking at the doors of the Supreme Court once again against the HC reinstatement orders.

After his meeting, Ramesh Kumar said he was confident of receiving a positive result soon. He said the Governor has patiently listened to his representation and assured to take appropriate measure in this regard.

It may be recalled the court has commented that the Governor has powers to appoint Ramesh Kumar as SEC if the government is continuing to remain indifferent.

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Ramesh Kumar to meet Governor on July 20 seeking his reinstatement as SEC

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Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, who was removed as SEC by the state government and reinstated by the High Court, will be meeting Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan on July 20.

Ramesh Kumar reportedly called up the Governor’s secretary who confirmed his appointment with the Governor on July 20. Ramesh Kumar will be seeking the Governor’s nod to reinstate him as State Election Commissioner as per the High Court directive.

Ramesh Kumar’s meeting with the Governor comes in the wake of the High Court giving a directive to approach the Governor seeking his restoration as the State Election Commissioner (SEC) under Article 243-K of the Constitution. On Friday, the HC observed that the Governor has the powers to appoint the SEC.

Further, the High Court also directed the Andhra Pradesh government to file a counter-affidavit explaining it’s position vis-a-vis the implementation of its earlier order.

Ramesh Kumar petitioned the High Court contending that its orders reinstating him as the SEC were not being implemented by the YCP government which amounts to contempt of court.

Ramesh Kumar also moved a contempt petition against the Jagan administration arguing that its order had not been complied with.

Kumar appealed to the HC to initiate contempt proceedings against chief secretary Nilam Sawhney and panchayat raj secretary for violating its order to reinstate him. The Chief Secretary had failed to honour the HC’s order despite writing several letters, Ramesh Kumar had contended.

The Jagan government also had to swallow a bitter pill in the Supreme Court. The SC had thrice refused to give a stay on the HC order as sought by the Jagan government through a Special Leave Petition and questioned its decision to bring out an ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar.

Hearing a Special Leave Petition filed by the AP government seeking the Supreme Court to give a stay on HC verdict to reinstate Ramesh Kumar, a three-judge SC bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, had warned the government not to play with the constitutional functionaries.

It may be noted that Ramesh Kumar had put off elections to civic bodies citing the spread of coronavirus. However, in an act of vindictive politics, the Andhra Pradesh government removed Ramesh Kumar as the SEC by promulgating an ordinance which had reduced the SEC term from five to three years. In a tearing hurry, it had appointed retired Tamil Nadu judge Justice Kangaraju in Ramesh Kumar. The move was challenged by Ramesh Kumar in the High Court.

Ramesh Kumar had also dashed off a letter to Union Home Ministry stating that there was a grave risk to his life and that of his family members from the YSRCP leaders. Instead of reinstating Ramesh Kumar as SEC as directed by the HC, the YSRCP dispensation had ordered a CID probe into the letter sent by Ramesh Kumar to Union Home Ministry terming it fake.

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AP govt spying on me: Ramesh Kumar to Governor

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After filing a contempt petition in the High Court, Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on Wednesday has written a letter to Andhra Pradesh governor Bishwabhushan Harichandan that the Andhra Pradesh government has been constantly spying and tracking his movements in Hyderabad with the help of the city police.

Ramesh Kumar, who filed a contempt petition in the High Court against the Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday, stated in his letter to the Governor that there is a 24-hour surveillance outside his Hyderabad residence in Prashant Nagar.

A four-wheeler and a two-wheeler parked outside his residence follows him wherever he goes. He also stated that his phone was tapped. In the letter, he apprised the Governor that the Jagan government was stopping his entry into the state.

Ramesh Kumar’s letter follows the select leak of CCTV footage from Park Hyatt in Hyderabad where he met BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sujana Chowdary and former minister and current BJP leader Kamineni Srinivas which had sparked off a political row. Doubts were raised about how and by whom the CCTV footage was leaked in breach of an individual’s privacy.

Ramesh Kumar in his letter informed the Governor that he had earlier written a letter to the Union Home Ministry fearing a threat to his life, a fact that was acknowledged by Minister of State for Home Kishan Reddy. However, the Andhra Pradesh government doubted that the letter was fake and ordered a CID probe only to harass him, Ramesh Kumar stated in his letter.

It may be recalled that Ramesh Kumar had sent a five-page letter to the Union Home Secretary apprehending a threat to his life and that of his family members. In the letter, Ramesh Kumar noted that ever since the State Election Commission as a constitutional authority took the decision to defer the elections by six weeks there was an unprecedented assault on him and the State Election Commission “by no less than the Chief Minister who had attacked me in most vitriolic and offending language casting aspersions and prejudice.”

Earlier in the day, Ramesh Kumar, who was removed as SEC by the Jagan government but reinstated by the Andhra Pradesh High court, on Wednesday filed a contempt case in the court against the state government for dishonouring its directive. In the contempt petition, Ramesh Kumar has contended that the Jagan government had failed to honour the High Court’s order reinstating him as the State Election Commissioner.

It may be noted that the Andhra Pradesh government on April 10 had promulgated an ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar from his post after he put off civic body elections citing coronavirus.

After ousting Ramesh Kumar as SEC, the state government had appointed retired Tamil Nadu judge Kanagaraju as the new SEC. Hearing a batch of petitions including the one filed by Ramesh Kumar, the Andhra Pradesh High Court reversed the government’s decision on May 29. In a major blow to the Andhra Pradesh government, the court had termed the ordinance unconstitutional and ordered the reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar as SEC.

However, a defiant Jagan government filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court to stay the HC’s orders. In a setback, the Supreme Court refused to stay the HC orders and observed that the Andhra Pradesh government cannot play with constitutional functionary. Currently, the case is pending in the Supreme Court.

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Ramesh Kumar files contempt petition in HC against Jagan sarkar

Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, who was removed as SEC by the Jagan government, on Wednesday filed a contempt case in the Andhra Pradesh High Court against the state government for dishonouring the court’s directive.

In the contempt petition, Ramesh Kumar has contended that the Andhra Pradesh government had failed to honour the High Court’s order reinstating him as the State Election Commissioner. Ramesh Kumar also stated that the government did not reinstate him as SEC despite making an appeal.

The contempt petition comes a day after Ramesh Kumar’s meeting with BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sujana Chowdary and former minister and current BJP leader Kamineni Srinivas in Park Hyatt hotel in Hyderabad which has sparked off a political row.

In an act of political vendetta, Andhra Pradesh on April 10 had promulgated an ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar from his post after he put off civic body elections citing coronavirus. After ousting Ramesh Kumar as SEC, the state government had appointed retired Tamil Nadu judge Kanagaraju as the new SEC. Hearing a batch of petitions including the one filed by Ramesh Kumar, the Andhra Pradesh High Court reversed the government’s decision on May 29.

In a major blow to the Andhra Pradesh government, the court had termed the ordinance unconstitutional and ordered the reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar as SEC. However, a defiant Jagan government filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court to stay the HC’s orders. In a setback, the Supreme Court refused to stay the HC orders and observed that the Andhra Pradesh government cannot play with constitutional functionary. Currently, the case is pending in the Supreme Court.

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CCTV footage shows Ramesh Kumar meeting with Sujana Chowdary

Nimagadda Ramesh Kumar, who was removed as SEC by the Jagan government, has landed himself in a fresh controversy.

A secret meeting with two BJP leaders in a 5-star hotel in Hyderabad’s posh Banjara Hills has triggered a political row.

Ramesh Kumar in a clandestine meeting had met BJP MP Sujana Chowdary and former minister Kamineni Srinivas at Park Hyatt in Hyderabad giving much needed ammo to the YSRCP government to attack the former.

CCTV Footage showed Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, Sujana Chowdary and Kamineni Srinivas walking into Park Hyatt separately. They then walked into a room in the hotel where they hustled for more than one hour. After the one hour meeting, the CCTV footage showed all the three walking out of the room separately.

The meeting raised questions on whether a constitutional functionary can meet political leaders, especially when Ramesh Kumar’s case is pending in the Supreme Court.

Ramesh Kumar was removed as SEC after he put off civic body polls citing Corona virus. The Andhra Pradesh government promulgated an ordinance which had cut short the tenure of SEC to three years from five years and in a tearing hurry appointed former Tamil Nadu judge Kangaraju as SEC.

The move was challenged in the AP High Court which had reinstated Ramesh Kumar as SEC. On it’s part, the Jagan government had filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court which had observed that the government cannot play with constitutional functionaries while turning down the plea to stay HC order reinstating Ramesh Kumar. Currently, the case is pending in the SC.

After the HC verdict reinstating Ramesh Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP Sujana Chowdhury said Jagan had brought shame to the AP government and dragged its prestige to the streets. “Where was the necessity to bring an amendment through the back-door (in the form of an ordinance) to change the term and eligibility of the SEC? The Jagan government received a massive mandate of 151 seats in the Assembly, now this does not mean that the government will disregard the constitutional framework and democratic norms. It is high time Jagan realised that his government should work within the constitutional framework and that his government cannot stretch beyond its limitations and should uphold the dignity of judiciary. He should come out of his monarch mindset and focus on the welfare of the state. At least now, he should put politics aside and seriously work towards putting the wheels of the economy on the right path,” Sujana Chowdary had advised.

In this backdrop, Ramesh Kumar’s meeting with Sujana Choudhury and Kamineni Srinivas has kicked up a new controversy with YSRCP leaders calling Ramesh Kumar a political stooge of the TDP and the BJP.

Further, the hush-hush meeting also raised concerns over privacy issues. Who leaked the video footage of the three leaders meeting in Park Hyatt which sees high profile clientele including film stars. Such selective leaks of CCTV footage is a breach of individual privacy.

It remains to be seen how this controversial meeting of Ramesh Kumar with the BJP leaders will pan out in the days to come.

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Ramesh Kumar case: SC blow to Jagan sarkar

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For the second time in less than 10 days, the Supreme Court on Thursday again refused to grant a stay on the Andhra Pradesh High Court judgement reinstating Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner.

A three-judge SC bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, heard the case on Thursday.

The Andhra Pradesh government had promulgated an ordinance to reduce the tenure of SEC to three years from five years and subsequently removed Ramesh Kumar as the election commissioner. In what was regarded as an act of political vendetta, the Jagan government had removed Ramesh Kumar after he put off elections to the civic bodies citing the threat of coronavirus pandemic.

After removing Ramesh Kumar, the Jagan sarkar had appointed 76-year-old retired Tamil Nadu judge Kangaraju as SEC. Ramesh Kumar had filed a petition in the High Court challenging the government’s decision 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. The Andhra Pradesh government had filed a Special Leave Petition in the SC seeking a stay on the High Court order.

On June 9, the SC observed that it was not right on part of the Andhra Pradesh government to play with the constitutional functionaries and that the removal of SEC was not done in a bonafide manner.

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Ramesh Kumar case: Jagan govt’s Special Leave Petition in SC has several anamolies

In major embarassement to the Jagan government, legal experts in the Supreme Court found several loopholes and anamolies in the Special Leave Petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the High Court’s directive to reinstate Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner.

The lawyers, according to sources, were aghast over the anamolies in the Special Leave Petition and asked by the Andhra Pradesh government to file a fresh petition. Following this, the government has decided to file three fresh petitions to challenge the High Court order to reinstate Ramesh Kumar.

The state government seems to have caught itself in the wrong foot in handling Nimagadda Ramesh Kumar issue and got entangled in a legal imbroglio. In a set back to the Jagan government, former BJP minister Kamineni Srinivas filed a Caveat petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Special Leave Petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government against the High Court’s directive to reinstate Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner. Kamineni Srinivas had already filed a petition in the High Court challenging the Jagan government’s ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar as SEC.

Through the Caveat petition, the former BJP minister pleaded the Supreme Court not to issue a stay order on the verdict of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the SEC case. Further, the former BJP minister stated that he had filed the Caveat petition with full consent and approval of the central BJP leadership, indicating that the Modi government could be mighty displeased with the way the state government was undermining the court verdicts. Kamineni Srinivas petition in the SC follows a Caveat petition filed by APPC working president Mastan Vali.

In an interesting twist to the legal battle, the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday has withdrawn a petition filed in the High Court to issue a stay on the verdict given in Ramesh Kumar’s case. The government has also withdrawn a stay petition in the High Court filed on behalf of Justice Kanagaraj.

It may be recalled that the Andhra Pradesh government in an act of political vendetta removed Ramesh Kumar as the SEC after he had put off the elections to civic bodies citing the spread of corona virus. In a brazen display of authoritarianism, the state government brought in an ordinance in a tearing hurry to remove Ramesh Kumar by reducing the SEC term from five to three years. Following this, Ramesh Kumar 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. Later, Ramesh Kumar had moved the High Court challenging the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to remove him as SEC. At least 13 petitioners questioned the sanctity of the ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar as SEC.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who had to cancel his scheduled meet with Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday, is holding a high-level meeting at his camp office in Tadepalli with Rajya Sabha MP Vijaysai Reddy to discuss a host of issues. Enery minister Balineni Srinivas Reddy and Minister for Civil Supplies Kodali Nani are part of the high-level meeting. Although the agenda of the meeting is not known, political observers said Jagan had called for the meeting following cancellation of his scheduled meet with Amit Shah. Jagan is likely to discuss Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar row and the vortex of legal disputes whether the High Court’s directive to remove party colours on government builindgs or scrapping of the GO to make English medium compulsory in government schools and several other litigations.

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HC verdict slap on Jagan, victory of democracy

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While YSRCP Energy minister Balineni Srinivas Reddy on Friday indicated that the state government was mulling to move the Supreme Court challenging the High Court’s verdict to reinstate Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner, leaders cutting across all political parties welcomed the court’s verdict calling it a victory of democracy.

Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan on Friday took to his Twitter handle to hail the High Court verdict to reinstate Ramesh Kumar. “The verdict reimposed immense trust and faith in democracy, it has provided oxygen to democracy,” he tweeted.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Sujana Chowdhury said Jagan had brought shame to the AP government and dragged its prestige to the streets. “Where was the necessity to bring an amendment through the back-door (in the form of an ordinance) to change the term and eligibility of the SEC? The Jagan government recieved a massive mandate of 151 seats in the Assembly, now this does not mean that the government will disregard the constitutional framework and democratic norms. It is high time Jagan realised that his government should work within the constitutional framework and that his government cannot stretch beyond its limitations and should uphold the dignity of judiciary. He should come out of his monarch mindset and focus on the welfare of the state. At least now, he should put politics aside and seriously work towards putting the wheels of the economy on the right path,” Sujana Chowdary advised.

“The ordinance to remove Nimmagadda Ramesh was passed in a hurry. Where was the need for the AP government to bring an ordinance. Further, the ordinance was passed by AP governor. The speed with which the government acted shows that it was an act of vendetta to remove Ramesh Kumar. This is a slap on the face of Jagan Mohan Reddy, an embarassment to the AP government. Repeatedly, the state government seems to be acting in defiance against courts which is not correct in democracy,” CPI general secretary K Narayana said.

Congress leader Tulasi Reddy said Jagan has no right to continue and he should step down. “Jagan and his government have no respect to judiciary. The High Court verdict is a slap on the face of Jagan. The elections to local bodies announced earlier should be cancelled and a fresh notification should be issued,” he said.

Senior Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao advised Jagan Mohan Reddy to respect the High Court’s verdict and desist from taking decisions that will bring disrepute to late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. “Jagan should focus on peoples issues. By taking wrong decisions, Jagan is bringing disrepute to his father. It is wrong to find faut with court verdicts. Jagan should rethink on his decision to shift Amaravati as the capital. Statements insulting judiciary is not a good sign. Jagan should give up his adamant and arrogant ways. Jagan has become CM at a very young, and he should not squander the massive mandate given by the AP people”. TDP leader Kesineni Nani said the verdict is a victory of democracy, while CPI’s Ramakrishna urged Jagan to uphold the rule of law and honour democratic values.

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Balineni indicates AP will move SC over HC verdict on Nimmagadda

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The Andhra Pradesh government seems to be in a defiant mode. In sheer display of couldn’t-care-less attitude, YSRCP Energy minister Balineni Srinivas Reddy on Friday indicated that the state government was mulling to move the Supreme Court challenging the High Court’s verdict to reinstate Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner.

While stating that the government respects the High Court verdict, Balineni Srinivas Reddy remarked that the government will evaluate the legal options indicating that the government is likely to challenge the HC’s decision in SC. The Andhra Pradesh government has made it a habit to undermine democratic institutions and had been showing utter disregard to the High Court verdicts. When the High Court directed the state government to remove YSRCP party colours on government buildings and panchayat offices, the Jagan government circumvented the court’s directive by adding an extra colour (Earth) and gave a new meaning to the party’s three colours. Chief Secretary and other top government officials had to appear before the High Court after recieving contempt notices in the colours issue. When the High Court struck down the GO 81 and 85 to make English the compulsory medium of instruction in all government schools.

In complete defiance of the High Court verdict which had scrapped the GO of the state government to make English medium compulsory in schools, Minister of Education Dr Adimulapu Suresh said the Jagan government was committed in implementing compulsory education in English medium of instruction in all government schools. Stating that the court verdict should not be seen either as victory or defeat, “Our leader Jagan is a man of his word, he won’t go back on his word,” he had remarked in a display of sheer arrogance.

The one year Jagan’s rule has undermined the democratic institutions and subverted parliamentary democracy by his authoritarian rule. Jagan and his team has had to cut a sorry face in more than 60 legal disputes, which is a record set by any state government in losing court cases. The state government’s ordinance to remove Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner is a grim pointer to how Jagan and his team have tried to destroy constitutional bodies like the State Election Commission. Further, the High Court had revoked the suspension orders against senior police officer A B Venkateswara Rao and directed the Jagan government to reinstate him. All these court verdicts and the immediate reaction from the state government implies Jagan and his team lack respect for courts. In most cases, the government exhibited its defiant mode.

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HC puts off hearing on Ramesh Kumar case to tomorrow

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The High Court on Monday postponed the hearing on the affidavit filed by Nimmagadda. Ramesh Kumar, who was removed by the AP government through the promulgation of an ordinance

After hearing the arguments that lasted for more than five hours, the High Court has postponed the hearing to tomorrow. Today’s proceedings took place within the court premises unlike the previous hearings which were conducted via video-conferecing.

The AG informed the court that the petitioner Ramesh Kumar took the decision to defer the civic polls without consulting the State government officials concerned. The AG asserted that the ordinance amending the AP Panchayat Raj Act was issued as part of electoral reforms. Further, the AG argued that the State government brought in the Ordinance under Article 243 (K) of the Constitution. The government contended that under Article 243 (K) (2), tenure of the SEC doesn’t come under service conditions and argued that it was well within its rights to take a decision on the SEC.

Ramesh Kumar argued that the SEC had the discretionary powers to defer the elections to civic bodies and was under no obligation to reveal the factors that led to the postponement of the elections. Hearing the arguements of both the sides, the High Court asked if the state government amended the municipal act. “If you have not amended the municipal act, it means Ramesh Kumar continues to be the state election commissioner?,” the court asked the AG.

More than 13 petitions were filed challenging the government’s decision to remove Ramesh Kumar through an ordinance which had reduced the tenure of the SEC to three years from five years. Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan approved the the ordinance, amending the AP Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, thereby curtailing the SEC’s tenure from five to three years and also appointing a retired High Court judge Kanagaraj to the post.

The ordinance was challenged by former ministers Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, Kamineni Srinivas, CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna and an advocate Yogesh, also filed petitions challenging the ordinance and the removal of the SEC. Subsequently, the Andhra Pradesh High Court directed the state government to file an affidavit on the removal of N Ramesh Kumar as the SEC.

Leader of Opposition and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu condemned the ousting of Ramesh Kumar as SEC, stating that Ramesh Kumar had saved people’s lives by postponing the local body polls in view of the pandemic.

In his 17-page counter affidavit, Ramesh Kumar argued that it was factually incorrect that the ordinance was brought in as part of the electoral reforms. In fact, the ordinance was issued with the mala fide intention to remove him for allegedly not consulting the government before announcing deferment of the civic polls and for taking certain other decisions that were not to its liking.

Ramesh Kumar was removed as SEC upon the promulgation of the ordinance and was quickly replaced by Kanagaraj, retired judge, Madras High Court

In the counter affidavit, Ramesh Kumar cited the reasons that led to the decision to postpone the elections. Ramesh Kumar contended that the decision was taken in the larger interest of public health after the Union government declared the Covid-19 outbreak a national disaster. He argued that the decision was taken under extraordinary circumstances and after due consultations with all stakeholder and that the SEC has powers on par with the Election Commission of India as per Sections 243K and 243ZA of the Constitution of India and Section 7 of Municipal Act to defer elections.

In the affidavit, Ramesh Kumar had argued that the state government was against a free and fair election and his response to postpone the local body elections for six weeks upon receiving complaints, led to his removal from SEC chair. Ramesh Kumar also citied series of violent attacks against Opposition party leaders in run up to the elections, forcible prevention of Opposition party candidates from filing nominations.

On April 25, the state government asserted that it did not bring out the ordinance amending the AP Panchayat Raj Act to sack Ramesh Kumar as SEC. In an affidavit, the state government argued before the High Court that the ordinance was issued as part of electoral reforms.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

HC puts off hearing in Ramesh Kumar case

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The High Court on Tuesday postponed the hearing on the affidavit filed by Nimmagadda. Ramesh Kumar, who was removed by the AP government through the promulgation of an ordinance

After hearing the arguments that lasted for more than five hours, the High Court has postponed the hearing to tomorrow. State Election Commission Secretary S Ramsundar Reddy informed the court that the petitioner Ramesh Kumar took the decision to defer the civic polls without consulting the State government officials concerned. Through the affidavit, Ramesh Kumar reportedly argued that the SEC had the discretionary powers to defer the elections to civic bodies and was under no obligation to reveal the factors that led to the postponement of the elections.

More than 13 petitions were filed challenging the government’s decision to remove Ramesh Kumar through an ordinance which had reduced the tenure of the SEC to three years from five years. Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan approved the the ordinance, amending the AP Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, thereby curtailing the SEC’s tenure from five to three years and also appointing a retired High Court judge Kanagaraj to the post.

The ordinance was challenged by former ministers Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao, Kamineni Srinivas, CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna and an advocate Yogesh, also filed petitions challenging the ordinance and the removal of the SEC. Subsequently, the Andhra Pradesh High Court directed the state government to file an affidavit on the removal of N Ramesh Kumar as the SEC.

Leader of Opposition and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu condemned the ousting of Ramesh Kumar as SEC, stating that Ramesh Kumar had saved people’s lives by postponing the local body polls in view of the pandemic.

In vendetta politics, the state government removed Ramesh Kumar after he deferred elections to civic bodies citing the outbreak of corona virus. The YSRCP leaders later resorted to personal attacks against Ramesh Kumar, even cast aspersions on the SEC chair. Jagan alleged that Ramesh Kumar had put off the elections at the behest of Chandrabbabu Naidu as both belong to the same social community. Ramesh Kumar shot off a letter to Union Home Secretary seeking police protection fearing a threat to his life and that of his family members. Even this was politicized by the YSRCP leadership and further targeted Ramesh Kumar by ordering a CID probe into the authenticity of the letter. The Opposition leaders called this witch-hunting and complained to the governor that the YSRCP leaders are resorting to personal attacks.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

I wrote the letter to Union Home Ministry, confirms Ramesh Kumar

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Reacting to former senior YSRCP leader and Rajya Sabja member Vijaysai Reddy’s allegation that the letter written by him to the Union home secretary was fake and forged one, former State Election Commissioner on Wednesday has put all speculations to rest by stating that the letter was indeed written by him. Ramesh Kumar shot off a letter to DGP Gautam Sawang in this regard.

In the letter to DGP, Ramesh Kumar said it was unfortunate that Vijaysai Reddy was making such allegations despite Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kishan Reddy confirming that he wrote letter to the Union Home Ministry. In the letter written to the Union Home Ministry, Ramesh Kumar sought protection from central forces for him and his family members as he feared physical attacks from the YSRCP leaders.

However, on Wednesday, Vijaysai Reddy raised serious doubts over the letter stating the tone and tenor of the letter indicates it might not have been written by Ramesh Kumar and asked the DGP to trace the IP address to find out from which system the letter was sent the Union home secretary. “It is fake and a forged letter,” YSRCP Rajya Sabha member wrote to the DGP.

Ramesh Kumar had written the letter after deferring the elections citing corona virus threat. At that time, not a single corona case was reported. The deferment of polls was challenged by the YSRCP in Supreme Court which upheld the SEC’s decision. The Opposition parties hailed the SEC decision saying the move has averted a big danger to the state in light of corona virus. In the meanwhile, the state government hurriedly moved an Ordinance to remove Ramesh Kumar by amending the AP Panchayati Raj Act, 19994, and cut short the tenure of SEC to three years from five years. The Opposition leaders termed the state government’s decision to remove Ramesh Kumr as undemocratic and said had it not been for him the situation in Andhra Pradesh could have been worse. Andhra Pradesh reported more than 500 cases thereafter with at least 11 deaths.

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Ramesh Kumar to move House Motion against removal

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Outgoing AP State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar is approaching the High Court seeking revocation of his removal by the State government. The HC is on holidays today and tomorrow. As a result, Ramesh Kumar has no option but to move house motion. The political and official circles are stunned at the humiliating way in which Jagan Sarkar has thrown Ramesh Kumar out of his post.

Usually, such tactics of Friday evening decisions are used to prevent opponents from getting immediate court relief. Similarly, Ramesh Kumar was removed from on Friday evening giving him no chance for immediate relief from the High Court. Meanwhile, Retired HC Judge Kanaga Raj was appointed as the new SEC. Kanaga Raj has even met Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan and has taken over as the new SEC of Andhra Pradesh.

Ramesh Kumar is all set to challenge the government’s powers to cut short his tenure by way of issuing an ordinance. Ramesh Kumar has already consulted legal experts in this respect.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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