VIJAYAWADA: Privileges Committee of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly is exploring options of either seeking an explanation from State Election Commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar or ask him to be present himself before it once it is established that he erred in complaining to the Governor against government functionaries.
Privileges Committee chairman Kakani Govardhan Reddy told Deccan Chronicle: “Based on a direction from the Assembly Speaker Thammineni Seetharam, we held a virtual meet of the committee. We discussed the content of complaint lodged by the SEC against two ministers Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and Botsa Satyanarayana, government advisor Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy and MP V. Vijaysai Reddy. Prima facie, we arrived at the conclusion that the committee has jurisdiction to take up the issue.”
Further, he said: “We have planned to hold a physical meet with all members in the committee to discuss the issue further. Once it is established with no ambiguity that the election commissioner has breached the privileges of ministers, we will seek an explanation from him as to why no action can be taken against him. In case, we are not satisfied with the explanation given to us, we will call him to appear before the committee to explain his version on the issue in person.”
There is precedence, where former Maharashtra state election commissioner Nandalal was sent to two days’ imprisonment by the Assembly for contempt of the house based on recommendations of the privilege committee.
The committee found him undermining the sanctity of legislature, as he took a controversial decision to conduct polls for civic and zilla parishads some 15 years ago. “We will once again discuss the issue thoroughly and even take legal opinion in our next meeting. We will then recommend to the Speaker either to initiate action or drop the case based on findings of our inquiry.”
It may be mentioned that after the two ministers complained, the Speaker referred the issue to Privileges Committee under Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules of AP Assembly Rule No. 173. The rule permits Speaker to refer any question of privilege to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation and report.
The state election commissioner had complained to Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan that the two ministers are targeting him with their adverse remarks in violation of model code of conduct. He even cautioned that he would move the constitutional court if he failed to get the remedy for such gross injustice.
Earlier, Privileges Committee chairman Govardhan Reddy questioned the rationale behind the state election commission’s decision to focus more where unanimous elections were to be held, even as the state government wanted to encourage unanimous polls to ensure peace in rural areas.