Jagan Reddy govt reinstates officer it removed from top poll body post

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The Andhra Pradesh government late on Thursday issued orders reinstating retired IAS officer Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the state election commissioner (SEC), a week after the Supreme Court pulled it up for defying the state high court directions in this regard.

A government order reinstating Ramesh Kumar as SEC was issued around midnight by Principal Secretary for Panchayat and Rural Development department Gopala Krishna Dwivedi.

A gazette notification was issued subsequently restoring the position of SEC to Ramesh Kumar.

The notification, which was signed by Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan, said the reinstatement would be subject to the outcome of the case in the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition filed by the state government challenging the high court ruling on reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar.

On April 10, the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government removed Ramesh Kumar from the post of SEC through an ordinance, which sought to reduce the term of the SEC from five years to three years and appoint a judicial officer of the high court judge rank in the post.

Accordingly, orders were issued ending the term of Ramesh Kumar who had just completed four years and retired Madras high court judge V Kanagaraj was appointed in his place.

Subsequently, Ramesh Kumar challenged the ordinance in the state high court. After prolonged hearings, the high court bench, comprising chief justice J K Maheshwari and Justice Satyanarayana Murthy, on May 29 struck down the ordinance and ordered that Ramesh Kumar be reinstated as the SEC with immediate effect.

On June 1, the Jagan government filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the high court verdict and seeking a stay on reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar. But the Supreme Court refused to grant any stay on the high court order but continued to take up the hearing in the case.

Since there was no stay on the high court order, Ramesh Kumar argued that he be reinstated as the SEC. When the Jagan government refused to yield to his demand, he filed a contempt petition in the high court.

Following the high court directions, he approached Governor Biswabhushan Harichandan and the Governor on July 22 wrote to the state government to follow the high court orders.

The Jagan government again moved the Supreme Court challenging the contempt case. The top court on July 24 strongly reprimanded the government for not following the high court orders.

Having no other option, the Jagan government was forced to restore Ramesh Kumar as SEC on Thursday. He is expected to resume office on Monday.

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