Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh government, on Friday, removed State Election Commissioner (SEC)  Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar through an Ordinance.  It (ordinance ) put an end to the  tenure of the SEC to three years from the current five years.

It may be recalled that YSR Congress government led by Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy was unhappy with the SEC’s decisions over  deferment of  local bodies elections citing Coronavirus scare.
Earlier in the state, Andhra Pradesh government,  issued two confidential orders to issue an ordinance to amend the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act 1994 to change the tenure – from five to three years – and the eligibility and method of appointment of the State Election Commissioner (SEC).

This give  out signals earlier in the day that the state is trying to show the doors to  SEC to ensure that an another  person is appointed to the high office. The state issued the GOs after the Governor’s assent. The decision has triggered a political controversy during the COVID-19 crisis.

The SEC is appointed as per Article 243(K) of the Constitution and the AP Panchayat Raj Act 1994.
As per the proposed ordinance, only a person who has held the office of the judge of a High Court will be eligible for appointment as the SEC. At present, a person who is holding the post of a principal secretary can be appointed as the SEC, in effect, only bureaucrats are eligible.

Sources said the state government wanted to reduce the tenure of the SEC to three years from the present five years. However, there is a possibility that the incumbent will be allowed to stay in office for three more years. But no person can occupy the office for more than six years. With the new ordinance, the government wants to appoint a retired High Court judge as the SEC in place of Mr Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar.

It may be recalled that SEC N. Ramesh Kumar had postponed the local body elections in Andhra Pradesh by six weeks. The polls had been scheduled for 21, 23, 27, and 29 March over Corona virus concerns. Though the state government had moved the Supreme Court against the postponement of the elections, the apex court had upheld the SEC’s decision and had lifted the model code of conduct in the state. Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy had expressed his displeasure over the SEC’s decision and some YSRCP leaders had alleged that the SEC was working at the behest of the TDP.

Calling the government’s move unethical, some TDP leaders said the YSRCP failed to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state while it has been making hasty decisions for its selfish gains at the cost of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

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