In a blow to the Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday struck down an ordinance promulgated on April 10 curtailing the tenure of the State Election Commissioner from five to three years.
The court also quashed a government order appointing retired judge V. Kanagaraj as the new State Election Commissioner and reinstated as SEC retired bureaucrat Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, who had come under attack from chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy after he postponed local body elections citing Covid-19 pandemic.
Justice V. Kanagaraj, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, had assumed charge as the SEC on April 11, replacing Ramesh Kumar, who was appointed during the previous TDP rule.
The high court delivered the judgment on a batch of writ petitions, including the one by the aggrieved Ramesh Kumar, challenging the ordinance and the appointment of a new SEC.
'The court ruled that the state government did not have the authority to curtail the tenure of the SEC. It also set aside the appointment of the new SEC. The court considered all our arguments in this regard,' senior advocate Jandhyala Ravi Shankar, who appeared on behalf of one of the petitioners, said.
The YSR Congress government on April 10 abruptly removed Ramesh Kumar from the post by promulgating the ordinance, amending the AP Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, curtailing the tenure of the SEC to three years from five.
The developments came in the backdrop of a feud the chief minister picked up with the SEC after the latter postponed the elections to rural and urban local bodies on March 15 in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jagan Reddy attacked Ramesh Kumar in the name of caste and complained against him to the governor.
The state government subsequently filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the SECs decision but the apex court endorsed the deferment of polls.