AP CM fumes at EC over cop transfers in a 7-page letter

Terming the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) decision on sudden transfers of IPS officials as “totally biased and violates the principles of natural justice,” AP Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu has written a letter to Election Commission of India. 

Requesting to cancel ECI’s decision to remove three IPS officials including Intelligence Chief A.B. Venkateswara Rao and SPs of Kadapa and Srikakulam, Rahul Dev and Venkata Ratnam, he suspected political conspiracy behind the said order. He said that the ECI has been contradicting its own guidelines in transferring officials, without any respect to intelligence Director-General.

The Chief Minister’s letter in verbatim: 

“I am shocked to see the communication received from the Election Commission of India (ECI) addressed to the Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh in which the Election Commission of India, conveying that Sri A.B.Venkateswara Rao, DG, Intelligence, Sri Venkata Ratnam, Superintendent of Police, Srikakulam, Sri Rahul Dev Sharma, Superintendent of Police, Kadapa be transferred forthwith. The Commission has also directed the Chief Secretary to send a panel of 3 names of suitable officers latest by 1.00 PM on 27-03-2019. Prima facie, this order of ECI is contradicting its own guidelines, totally biased and violates the principles of natural justice.

I strongly protest the manner in which the above transfers have been ordered. It is sad that the ECI has ordered the transfer of the above officers just based on a complaint given by YSRCP in less than 24 hours of the complaint without even a preliminary enquiry. The order communicated by ECI doesn't mention the reasons for such a transfer. The ECI which has been assigned with the authority of conducting free and fair elections to safeguard democracy itself conducts its business in the most unfair, and undemocratic manner.

Firstly, the DG, Intelligence is not connected with the conduct of elections at all. He is primarily responsible for providing security to me, my Cabinet colleagues and senior political leaders including MP5 and MLAs. All of us are in the midst of hectic election campaign for the Phase-I elections which involves long hours of travel to interior places and mixing with the people in the process of campaign. Collection of intelligence and effective deployment of police and security to me and my colleagues is looked after by the 06, Intelligence. 

Transferring the Intelligence DG at this hour is nothing but a deep rooted, well orchestrated evil design born out of criminal conspiracy hatched by Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy duly abetted by Sri K.Chandrasekhar Rao and Sri Narendra Modi. It is enigmatic as to how the ECI decided his transfer without giving a reasonable opportunity to the DG level functionary ignoring the principles of natural justice. The ECI did not bother to take the comments of the State Government either before issuing such a direction. An institution which is intended for installing the democratically elected Governments doesn't demonstrate the basic respect for a democratically-elected Government. 

It is regrettable that the Election Commission has grossly violated its own instructions given in its letter No.437/6/1/ECI/FUNCT/MCC/2019, dt:16.01.2019. In Para 4.1 (1) of said circular it clearly says that the Police Officials who are posted in functional departments like computerization, special branch, training etc., are not covered under the instructions. Further Para 4.1 (iv) also says that the “transfer policy is normally not applicable to officers/officials who are not directly connected with elections”. The circular further says if there are specific complaints of political bias or prejudice against any such Government Officer, which on enquiry are found to be substantiated, then CEO/ECI may order not only transfer of such official but also appropriate departmental action against the said officer”. 

Thus, it is obvious that the ECI’s decision is in violation of its own circular, perhaps, necessitated by extraneous factors. Sri Venkata Ratnam, Superintendent of Police, Srikakulam has been posted very recently to Srikakulam in the general transfers based on his impeccable track record. There are no complaints against him to our knowledge. He has been posted as SP, Srikakulam with a view to ensure equitable opportunities to underrepresented sections of the Society.
He belongs to Kapu Community which has been proposed to be included in the list of backward classes. Recently, the Govt of Andhra Pradesh has allotted 5% of reservation quota to the Kapu Community. While 50, the YSRCP leader Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy had openly opposed the rule of reservation to this community and therefore has inherent hatred towards such officers. Under this prejudice, the YSRCP leaders have been incessantly complaining against his posting as SP alleging that a non cadre officer has been posted as SP. 

It is a usual practice that such non-cadre officers are posted under the exigencies of administration and social balancing. Transferring such officer without any basis is nothing but prejudice shown by the ECI towards the weaker sections. In this context, I am constrained to mention about the autocratic style of the ECI in connection with transfer of one Sri M. Rama Rao who belongs to Schedule Tribe (Erukula) from the post of Collector, Srikakulam. 

He is the first IAS officer to get posted as the District Collector in the annals of Andhra Pradesh history from Erukula (ST). He was Collector hardly for 48 hours in Srikakulam and the ECI ‘assessed’ him to be inefficient while interacting in a meeting held for reviewing the election preparedness. Though this transfer was untimely and hasty, we have agreed for his transfer without any protest believing that the election commission is fair and apolitical. 

Unfortunately, the conduct of ECI has now become highly questionable and it is joining the list of Constitutional Bodies which are no longer independent. The transfer of Sri Rahul Dev Sharma, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Kadapa is again highly objectionable that he has been transferred when he is enquiring into a ghastly murder of Sri Vivekananda Reddy a former Minister. Sri Vivekananda Reddy was found murdered in his house on 15th March, 2019 and his close relatives including Sri Avinash Reddy, Ex MP have tried to erase the evidences of murder. 

The Sakshi News Channel, which belongs to Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy, reported that Sri Vivekananda Reddy died due to heart attack as late as 9.19 am on that day though the murder appeared to have happened in the early hours, Sri Avinash Reddy and other family members have seen the dead body in a pool of blood with deep injuries made by sharp weapons. 

The preliminary investigation revealed that the family members were trying to conceal the cause of death though it has been found to be a murder by screening the evidence. With a view to establish the culprits in the murder, the Government appointed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the investigation is going on. 

Thus, the presence of Superintendent of Police is highly critical at this point of time. Having failed to conceal the cause of death, Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy and other family members are trying to escape from the charges of gruesome murder. Accordingly, Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy complained to the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and later approached the Hon'ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh pleading for third party enquiry. 

The family members of Sri Y.S.Vivekananda Reddy have been instigated to complain to ECI about this murder. Further, they also approached the Hon'ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh requesting for CBI enquiry and with a prayer to prevent the SIT from divulging the findings of the investigation until the election process is over. All these nefarious attempts by Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy and other family members is a blatant conspiracy to suppress the facts of the murder which is widely believed to be a murder by an insider. 

Under these circumstances, without going into the facts of the matter, the ECI has become a party to the conspiracy of YSRCP and ordered the transfer of Superintendent of Police, Kadapa. The working President of YSRCP Party Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy is facing Criminal Charges of heinous crimes including economic offences as evident from the election affidavit (copy enclosed) submitted by him during the filing of nominations for contesting elections in the ongoing APLA Assembly elections. 

He has himself admitted in the affidavit that he is facing 31 criminal cases against him filed by CBI, ED etc., under PC Act, Money Laundering Act and various sections of IPC. Sri Vijay Sai Reddy who is a frequent visitor to ECI is an accomplice in the crime in many cases against Sri Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy. Such persons who have committed heinous crimes are being welcomed by the ECI. They are being treated as the most trustworthy persons to make false and baseless allegations against honest public servants. It conveys the message that the honest public servants have to bow before such persons who have no scruples. 

Thus, the action of the ECI is prima facie hasty, biased, undemocratic and suffers from the principles of natural justice. The transfer orders would adversely affect the morale of the honest, judicious and upright police officials of Andhra Pradesh who have the reputation for their efficiency and professionalism. Further, the ECI's conduct has become questionable due to this coloured decision which is deliberately aimed at benefitting the YSRCP under the influence of Sri Narendra Modi aided by Sri K. Chandra Sekhar Rao. 

While the ECI has shown extraordinary interest in responding to the complaint of YSRCP, it has blissfully ignored the representations of Telugudesam Party against the malicious actions of YSRCP. The Telugudesam Party has complained to ECI about the illegal and criminal intentions of YSRCP which arranged for Wing Form 7 applications online for deletion of 5.4 lakh voters who are TDP supporters. These Form 7 applications were made between 15th February 2019 to 12th March, 2019 in all the 175 Assembly segments in a planned manner. 

It was found that the applicants who sought deletion of voters from the list mostly belonged to YSRCP cadres. The CEO of Andhra Pradesh ordered to book the cases against the persons responsible for the mischief. To expedite the investigation, process a special investigation team (SIT) was formed under the command of an officer in the rank of Additional DGP. When the investigation officer has requested the CEO to furnish the LP Numbers from where these Form 7 claims were filed, the CEO has addressed a letter to the ECI. Though, it is more than a fortnight, the ECI is yet to instruct the CDAC to supply the IP addresses to complete the investigation process. 

The delay on the part of ECI is quite obvious that it wants to shield the persons with criminal intentions. While, the Election Commission acts with extraordinary speed to transfer honest and sincere officers based on frivolous complaint made by YSRCP, it has deliberately ignored the complaint of TDP. As stated above, I am extremely pained to write this letter in view of the unjustifiable and partisan attitude of the ECI. As you might be knowing, I have been provided Z+ Category security in view of the severe threat perception. I have literally escaped from the teeth of death due to a bomb blast attack on me in 2003. While so, transferring the DG, Intelligence at this critical juncture is a severe blow to my election campaign. 

I, further, bring it to your notice that the Election Commission of India vide letter No.464/NST/2019/E.P.S/dated: 15.03.2019, has requested the Chief Secretaries of all the States to send Notification designating the Police Officers and Police Personnel by the State Government under Section 28 (A) of the Representation of People Act, 1951. The State Government forwarded the Notification issued through G.O.Rt.No.2856, dated:20.12.2017 which was issued in Pursuance of the earlier instructions issued by the Election Commission of India. 

A Copy of the G.O.Rt.No.2856, dated:20.12.2017 is filed herewith, a perusal of the same would reveal that the Director General, Intelligence is not a designated officer under Section 28A of the Representation of Police Act, 1951 consequently the ECI does not have any authority/jurisdiction to transfer the Director General, Intelligence in the purported exercise of the powers conferred on it under Article 324 of the Constitution of India read with Section 28A of the Representation of People Act, 1951. 

Through the impugned proceedings, the ECI has not only transferred the Intelligence DG but also requested the State to forward a Panel of three names along with APAR Grading for the last five years and Vigilance Clearance latest by 1.00 PM on 27.03.2019. Article 324 of the Constitution of India only empowers the Election Commission to exercise powers in respect of personnel who are designated to discharge election duties. The Commission did not request for availing services of the Director General, Intelligence under Article 324 (6) of the Constitution of India, consequently, the Election Commission of India does not have jurisdiction to transfer the said authority and seek Panel from the State to Full the vacancy arising out of such transfer. 

The jurisdiction of the Commission cannot be considered to be unbridled and the powers are circumscribed by provisions of the Representation of People Act, 1951 more particularly Section 28A of the Act. Under these circumstances, I request the ECI to review its decision and cancel the transfer orders issued to Sri A.B. Venkateswara Rao, DG, Intelligence, Sri Venkata Ratnam, Superintendent of Police, Srikakulam, Sri Rahul Dev Sharma, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Kadapa.”

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