The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the State Election Commissioner (SEC) in Andhra Pradesh Government's challenge to a High Court Order by which it reinstated retired IAS officer Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as SEC.
The High Court had struck down the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated in April this year, through which the tenure of the SEC was sought to be curtailed from a 5 year term to that of 3 years. Further, through the Ordinance, a judicial officer of the rank of a High Court Judge was to be appointed SEC.
The matter came up before a Bench led by CJI SA Bobde, also comprising of Justices AS Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, who indicated that they were not entirely satisfied with the motive behind the Ordinance.
"We are not satisfied that your motives were entirely innocent. How can you pass an ordinance like this?" remarked the Chief Justice.
Representing the AP Government, Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi informed the Court that the High Court had struck down the provision under which the incumbent SEC had been appointed. Seeking stay on the High Court's Order, Dwivedi urged that the current SEC would not be able to continue serving in his post if the said order was allowed to stand.
"The High Court has struck down the provision under which the incumbent was appointed…It has found that decision is ultra vires. The provision for appointment is struck down. How can the incumbent continue in his post?" argued Dwivedi.
On May 29, the Andhra Pradesh High Court 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.
It restored retired bureaucrat Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the SEC.
Justice V Kanagaraj, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, had assumed charge as the SEC on April 11, replacing Ramesh Kumar.