The Andhra Pradesh government has written to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to ignore State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar’s recommendation to compulsory retirement of two IAS officers, and also advise him not to exceed his domain.
“I, therefore, request to refuse to take cognizance of the proceedings issued by the SEC against the member of services and also to advise the SEC not to exercise the power which is not in his domain and adhere to the guidelines in the matter,” said an official in the letter addressed to the DoPT Secretary, which was shared on Thursday.
According to the state government, Kumar censured Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Principal Secretary Gopal Krishna Dwivedi and Commissioner M. Girija Shankar for alleged dereliction of duty in their work related to the gram panchayat elections.
The AP government highlighted that the SEC failed to follow due procedure prescribed under All India Service (AIS, D & A) rules, 1969.
“SEC has written a very derogatory letter against the named officers to the Secretary, DoPT for their compulsory retirement. This step of SEC also doesn’t fall under his competence and suffers from jurisdictional error,” the official observed.
He said that the Election Commission is empowered to suspend any officer working under the central government, public sector undertaking or autonomous body fully or partially funded by the government for insubordination or dereliction of duty, besides making recommendations to the competent authority for taking disciplinary action while engaged in the preparation of electoral rolls or election duty.
“Censure is a penalty classified under minor penalties and the state government is the competent authority to impose the said penalty to member of service serving with the affairs of the state and it has to be imposed by following the procedure laid down under rule 10 of the said rules,” observed the official.
AP government pointed out that the SEC administering censure against the two IAS officers, including directing the same to form a part of their service record is bereft of competence and jurisdiction, transgressing into the powers vested with the state government.
“Any instrument issued without competency is illegal and bad in law. Accordingly, state government had issued orders rejecting the censure proceedings of the SEC,” the official noted in the missive.
“Further, there has not been an iota of doubt regarding the conduct of officers during their past service,” the missive asserted.
Panchayat elections were originally supposed to have been held in 2018 when the tenure of the local bodies expired back then but Kumar chose not to hold them and waited until now.
However, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy thought of going to the polls in March 2020 but Kumar refused the green signal, citing the Coronavirus pandemic, leading to a major standoff between the two.
Reddy accused Kumar of acting at the behest of Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu during whose tenure he was appointed and even tried to replace him, which backfired as the SEC has Constitutional protection equal to a Supreme Court judge.
With just two more months left as the SEC, Kumar is going ahead conducting the polls which the state government could not stop with their deferment appeal getting dismissed in the Supreme Court on Monday.