Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh poll panel chief case: SC decision in 2-3 weeks

Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde on Wednesday said the Supreme Court would hear and decide in “two or three weeks” separate appeals filed by the Andhra State Election Commission and BJP leader Atluri Ramakrishna challenging an Andhra Pradesh High Court order reinstating N. Ramesh Kumar as the State poll panel chief.

Heading a three-judge Bench presiding over a virtual court hearing, Chief Justice Bobde said the court did not intend to pass any interim orders in the case, but would hear it on merits after three weeks.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi for Andhra Pradesh suggested the court to allow the appointment of an interim State Election Commissioner to avoid any delay in election work.

CJI’s observation

“We will not talk about the conduct of elections. Elections should take place,” Chief Justice Bobde said.

On June 10, the court had declined the State government’s interim plea to stay the High Court order setting aside the ordinance which amended the Andhra Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act of 1994. Now all three appeals on the issue would be heard together.

The amendments had included restricting the State Election Commissioner post to only retired High Court judges.

Prior to the amendment, retired bureaucrats were also in the zone of consideration. The curtailment of the tenure of the Election Commissioner to three years had compelled the then incumbent to step down. Subsequently, a new Commissioner was appointed.

The High Court, on May 29, had set aside the amendments as retrospective legislation. It said the State did not have the power to appoint State Election Commissioners under Articles 243K and 243 ZA.

Right to equality

The power to make the appointments lies with the Governor. It had found the reduction of the tenure from five to three years arbitrary and in violation of the right to equality under Article 14, the High Court had said.

The High Court had delivered the judgment on a batch of writ petitions, including the one by Mr. Ramesh Kumar against the amendments and the subsequent appointment of a new SEC.

The YSR Congress government had on April 10 abruptly removed Mr. Ramesh Kumar from the post following the amendments to the 1994 Act.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 4:38:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/andhra-pradesh-poll-panel-chief-case-sc-decision-in-2-3-weeks/article32025300.ece

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