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Why AP High Court is now chiding SEC. Here’s the Story

In an interesting twist of events when everyone in Andhra Pradesh seemed to have finally come to terms with the end of ego battle between the State Election Commission (SEC) and the Jagan government after the poll notification, the Andhra High Court now raked up another issue in this regard. What seemed to have been settled by the Supreme Court is now taken up by the High Court. 
 
The Andhra Pradesh High Court yesterday rapped State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar and questioned  whether his intention behind filing a contempt petition accusing the government of not following its orders to cooperate with him, was merely for publicity. Further, the court asked as to why the SEC did not plead for an urgent hearing of the petition when it was filed on December 18, 2020 and had not come up for hearing for 42 days.
 
It sought to know why the SEC did not deem it necessary to place before the court the urgency in hearing the case for 42 days and suddenly approached it with a prayer to take it up as an urgent matter. Justice Battu Devanand, who heard the contempt petition filed by the SEC, said it makes the court believe the SEC is using the contempt petition for publicity only and if that was not the case, the SEC would have made a prayer to hear the petition earlier.
 
Meanwhile, the SEC filed the contempt petition against the government for allegedly not implementing the HC orders passed on November 3. The petition did not come up for hearing till January 29, Justice Devanand said and asked why the petitioner did not urge the High Court registry to place the matter for urgent hearing explaining its importance. 
 
Senior counsel Ashwini Kumar, appearing on behalf of the SEC, submitted that they had requested the registry to list the matter for hearing. Further, he said the content of the writ was published in newspapers the very next day of filing the petition, which suggests that the intent of the SEC was to gain publicity. 
 
Responding to this, Ashwini Kumar said it is the registrar concerned who will file the petition. Justice Devanand questioned as to why the SEC himself had filed the writ instead of the secretary. Ashwini Kumar informed the court that the secretary was not cooperating with the commission and that they had even written a letter to the Chief Secretary to initiate action against the secretary.
 
Meanwhile, the SEC filed an additional affidavit to make Chief Secretary Aditya Nath Das also a respondent since the then CS Nilam Sawhney has retired. The court issued notices to Aditya Nath Das, Panchayat Raj Principal Secretary Gopal Krishna Dwivedi and retired Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney, and posted the matter for further hearing to February 15. 
 

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