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Jagan Govt counters AP High Court move over reinstating Ramesh as SEC

It looks like the Andhra Pradesh government is quite unhappy with the High Court’s verdict, directing the state to reinstate retired IAS Officer Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner (SEC). 
 
In a special leave petition filed in the Supreme court, the state government challenged the High Court’s order striking down the ordinance promulgated last month which sought to reduce the tenure of the SEC from five years to three years and appointing a judicial officer of the rank of a high court judge as the SEC.
 
The petition is expected to come up for hearing Tuesday or Wednesday, during which Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy was supposed to be in New Delhi to discuss the issue with legal experts to present the government’s case in the Supreme Court. However, for mysterious reasons, the CM’s Delhi tour got cancelled.
 
On Friday, the AP High Court bench comprising chief justice J.K. Maheshwari and senior judge Satyanarayana Murthy also struck down two government orders that followed the ordinance removing Ramesh Kumar as SEC and appointing retired judge of Madras high court V. Kanagaraj in his place. The High Court ruled that Kanagaraj’s appointment was illegal and Ramesh Kumar be allowed to continue for the rest of his tenure. 
 
Challenging the High Court’s judgment, the Andhra Pradesh government argued that it had all the powers to appoint the SEC and the appointment of Justice Kanagaraj was done as per the statute. It appealed to the court to set aside the orders of the high court and allow Justice Kanagaraj to continue as the SEC.
 
The state government, however, ignored the circular issued by Ramesh Kumar, soon after the judgment, that he was resuming charge as the SEC as per the court order and that he would discharge his duties fairly and impartially as he had done in the past and as mandated.
 
Ramesh Kumar, however, said the High Court had clearly directed the state government to restore his position as SEC and allowed him to continue in office until completion of his tenure which ends on March 31, 2021. Stating that the stand taken by the government was illegal, he said he was contemplating moving the high court again seeking restoration of his position.
 

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