Vijayawada: In response to the State Election Commission’s order, several officials in AP including district collectors from Chittoor and Guntur have been relieved of their duties and their charges were handed over on Tuesday.
Chittoor collector N. Bharat Gupta handed over charge to joint collector-1 D. Markendeyulu. So did Guntur collector I. Samuel Anand who handed over charge to joint collector-1 A.S. Dinesh Kumar.
Superintendent of police, Tirupati Urban, Avula Ramesh Reddy handed over charge to SP, Chittoor, Senthil Kumar. Police officers including DSP Srikalahasthi and four CIs from Macherla, Punganur, Rayadurgam and Tadiparti are also being relieved of their duties. DSP Palamaneru, who got promoted as additional SP, is to be barred from poll-related work.
The SEC named nine officials for their failure in preventing aberrations in the election processes in the past and also for incidents of poll-related violence. Despite repeated requests to the chief secretary to remove these tainted officers, and as no response was forthcoming, the SEC invoked the plenary powers under article 243 (K) read with article 324 to remove them and issued the orders on January 22.
Notably, the Supreme Court had dismissed the AP government’s petition to defer conduct of gram panchayat polls, on the ground that the Covid-19 vaccination and gram panchayat polls cannot be handled by officials at the same time. The state government is now extending its support to conduct the polls.
The SEC has also made adverse comments on the failure of panchayat raj principal secretary Gopala Krishna Dwivedi and its commissioner M. Girija Sankar in updating the electoral rolls, resulting in deprival of the right to vote, to nearly 3.61 lakh first-time voters in the coming gram panchayat polls. These two officials are also likely to be relieved from their present duties soon.
The revenue authorities maintain that there is still time to update the electoral rolls and give an opportunity to the first-time voters to cast their vote in the ensuing polls.
A senior IAS officer said, “If we get any direction from the SEC to do so, we can get the printouts of all the electoral rolls and give these to the village revenue officers and local political party agents to verify these lists by visiting door-to-door and strike off the names of the dead voters and check about the migrants -- whether they are staying in the wards -- and update the rolls so that they can be used for the polls.”