AP High Court orders reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner

It struck down ordinance No. 5 of 2020 through which the term of SEC was cut short

Updated - May 29, 2020 02:28 pm IST

Published - May 29, 2020 02:27 pm IST - VIJAYAWADA

N. Ramesh Kumar

N. Ramesh Kumar

In a major setback to Andhra Pradesh government, the High Court struck down AP Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance (No.5 of 2020) and the consequential G.Os 617, 618 and 619 through which it cut short the term of the State Election Commissioner (SEC) from five to three years resulting in the expulsion of Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar from that post.

A two-judge bench of the court comprising Chief Justice J.K. Maheswari and Justice M. Satyanarayana Murthy directed the government to reinstate Mr. Ramesh Kumar as SEC with immediate effect.

This leads to the exit of Madras High Court retired judge V. Kanagaraj who was appointed as SEC soon after Mr. Ramesh Kumar was forced to demit office through the ordinance route.

The High Court found merit in Mr. Ramesh Kumar's argument that the power conferred under Article 213 of the Constitution to promulgate ordinances was not an absolute entrustment but conditional upon the satisfaction that the circumstances exist for such an action.

The court also agreed with Mr. Ramesh Kumar's view that the impugned ordinance was in violation of Article 243-K which states that a SEC could not be removed except in the same manner as provided for a judge of a High Court.

It may be recalled that the government claimed to have brought the above ordinance as part of local body election reforms and it was not targeted at Mr. Ramesh Kumar.

The crux of the issue was Mr. Ramesh Kumar's decision to postpone elections to urban and rural local bodies just a few days before polling on the ground that Coronavirus pandemic would flare up if the elections were held as per schedule. This prompted YSR Congress leaders and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy himself to attribute motives to the step taken by Mr. Ramesh Kumar.

Mr. Ramesh Kumar then approached the High Court seeking justice after he was removed through an ordinance.

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