Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan has asked the state government to reinstate Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner (SEC) as per the High Court orders issued nearly two months ago.
In a letter to Ramesh Kumar, the Governor’s Secretary informed him that the Governor has directed the government to take necessary action to reinstate him as the SEC.
The development came two days after the retired IAS officer called on the Governor and brought to his notice the High Court orders to reinstate him as the SEC and court instructions on a contempt petition filed by him against certain government officials for non-implementation of the court orders.
The High Court had on July 16 asked Ramesh Kumar to call on the Governor, saying the latter holds the powers to appoint the SEC as per its order.
The bench comprising Chief Justice J.K. Maheshwari and M. Satyanarayana Murthy gave the direction on a contempt of court petition filed by Ramesh Kumar, who was reinstated as SEC by the High Court on May 29.
He alleged that the state government was in contempt of court by not allowing him to resume office as the SEC.
He brought to the notice of the court that former High Court judge, Justice V. Kanagaraj, who was appointed in his place in April, was still being treated as the SEC by the government.
The petitioner also conveyed to the court that though the government moved the Supreme Court against the High Court orders but the apex court refused to grant stay.
The bench asked the government to file its counter and adjourned the hearing to July 24.
The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government had issued an ordinance on April 10 to sack Ramesh Kumar as the SEC following a row over the postponement of local body elections.
Within hours after the sacking, the government appointed Kanagaraj the new SEC.
On the petitions of Ramesh Kumar and several others, the High Court on May 29 struck down the ordinance on the issue, declaring it “unconstitutional”. It also set aside the orders to appoint Kanagaraj as the new SEC.
Ramesh Kumar had issued a circular to all District Collectors, CEOs of zilla praja parishads, District Panchayat Officers, and Municipal Commissioners the same day, stating that pursuant to the High Court orders he stood restored to the office of SEC.
However, the next day he withdrew the circular after Advocate General S. Subramanya Sriram said that Ramesh Kumar’s action of issuing a circular is ‘illegal’ as the High Court had not asked him to take charge.