N. Ramesh Kumar, whose five-year tenure as the State Election Commissioner (SEC) was cut short by an ordinance brought by the government on Friday nig challenged it in the Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) High Court (HC).
He appealed for declaration of the ordinance (No.5 of 2020), and the G.Os through which Madras High Court retired judge V. Kanagaraj was appointed as his successor, as unconstitutional.
‘Abuse of power’
Mr. Ramesh Kumar argued that the government did not give reasons for its sudden decision and that it abused its power with the sole intention to shunt him out of the top post. He insisted that there was no justifiable ground to issue the ordinance.
Moreover, the local body election process initiated by him has not been completed due to the crisis precipitated by COVID-19.
The arbitrary manner in which the government reduced the tenure of SEC amounted to encroaching upon the independence of the Constitutional body, the former SEC stated.
‘Govt’s plan to hush up’
Mr. Ramesh Kumar said going by Justice Kanagaraj's taking charge as SEC before the matter reached the court exposed the government’s plan to hush up things.
The basic objective of his removal was to punish him for taking action against officials who cooperated with the ruling party leaders in the Commission in various irregularities in the run-up to civic polls, he alleged, appealing to the court to strike down the controversial ordinance and G.Os.
It may be noted that Mr. Ramesh Kumar, a 1983-batch IAS officer, had taken charge as SEC on April 1, 2016 in the wake of bifurcation of the unified A.P. The postponement of the local body elections by him due to the spread of COVID just a few days before polling was to take place, sparked off the trouble.
‘Didn’t consult the Govt: CM’
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged Mr. Kumar did not consult the government and was acting at the behest of some political leaders.
The government approached the Supreme Court, which refused to interfere with the SEC’s decision to defer the polls but ordered the Model Code of Conduct be lifted.