Vijayawada: In a swift development, the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission (APSEC) cancelled its circular reinstating Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner (SEC) and the government appointed G Vani Mohan, commissioner of cooperation, as the new secretary to SEC.
The AP State Election Commission, after releasing the AP High Court verdict in the Ramesh Kumar case on May 29, had issued circular no. 317/SECA/2020 regarding resumption of charge by Ramesh Kumar as SEC. But late on Saturday night, APSEC issued another circular stating that circular no. 317/SECA/2020 had been withdrawn. This created confusion about whether Ramesh Kumar would be resuming charge as SEC.
According to reports, Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney issued GO Rt No. 907 appointing Vani Mohan as secretary of the SEC.
On Sunday, Kumar responded to what the state government had said about his reporting to the office. Advocate-General S Sriram, responding to the High Court judgment on the State Election Commissioner, had said that Kumar had resorted to self-restoration as SEC though there was no such order in the court’s verdict. Kumar said that the state government was violating the High Court orders and it was clearly evident from the announcement made by the state government on Saturday.
Kumar said that the APSEC is an independent body and the steps taken by the state government would hamper its integrity. As the government did not implement the High Court order, he would approach the High Court again for justice, he said, and added that a contempt case would be filed for not implementing the court order.
Kumar claimed that the AP High Court on May 29 (Writ Petition No.8163 of 2020 at Para No. 307) had set aside Ordinance No. 5 dated 10.04.2020 as also the consequential GOs which notified the appointment of Justice (retd) V Kanagaraju as SEC. He said that the High Court in paragraph 308 of the judgment directed the state government to restore his position as SEC and allow him to continue in office until completion of tenure on March 31, 2021.
According to the judgment, he claimed, Justice Kanagaraju ceases to hold office as SEC. His appointment is therefore deemed to be void ab initio.
“Since, a Constitutional post cannot remain vacant and also that the AP Government contended and stated that I was not removed, but by virtue of the Ordinance I cease to continue as State Election Commissioner, as such, I was given to understand that my position becomes status quo ante and that I stand restored to the office of the State Election Commissioner. Accordingly, I issued a communication of assumption of charge, and the Secretary of AP State Election Commission issued the proceedings on 29.05.2020 notifying my restoration,” Kumar said.
The tone and tenor of the government’s press conference revealed its intention not to implement the directions of the High Court by citing reasons which are wholly untenable. It is highly regrettable that the AP government continues to show its utter disregard for the independence and integrity of the institution of the State Election Commission, he said.
He claimed that the stand taken by the state government is in clear violation of the directions and judgment of the AP High Court.