Vijayawada, April 11: Former Judge of Madras High Court Justice V Kanagaraj has been appointed as Andhra Pradesh State Election Commissioner (SEC) a day after Andhra Pradesh government ousted N Ramesh Kumar through a special ordinance.

The 75- year-old Kanagaraj is a Law graduate from Madras Law College of Madras University in 1972. He was enrolled as a member of Madras Bar Council in January 1973. V Kanagaraj emerged the most successful lawyer for over two decades before he was appointed as Judge of Madras High Court in February 1997. As a judge, he delivered landmark judgments. He had decided over 69, 000 cases as a judge.

On Friday Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan approved the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance to change the tenure, eligibility, and method of appointment of the State Election Commissioner (SEC).

Earlier, the government had marked the ordinance confidential but placed it in the public domain later in the evening.

The government removed Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar and reduced the tenure of SEC to three years from five years.

YSR Congress government led by Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy was not happy with Kumar’s decision to defer local bodies’ election citing coronavirus scare.

How AP government removed former SEC- Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar from office

The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday issued two confidential GOs (GO MS-617 –PanchayatRaj and Rural Elections Development and GO MS-31- Law) pertaining to issue an ordinance amending the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act-1994 to change the tenure (from 5 years to 3 years), eligibility and method of appointment of the State Election Commissioner (SEC) as part of electoral reforms to ensure an independent, fair and neutral person holds the high office and also allegedly removal of the incumbent SEC.

The AP government issued GO notifying the ordinance after Governor’s assent and another GO to removing the present SEC from his post through the powers conferred with the new ordinance. The AP government’s decision has triggered a political controversy during the Covid-19 crisis.

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. Currently, a person who is holding the rank of a principal secretary can be appointed as the SEC in effect, only bureaucrats are eligible.

Sources said that AP government wanted to bring down the tenure of SEC to 3 years from the present 5 years. However, there is a possibility to continue the incumbent for three more years but no person can occupy the office for more than six years.

It may be recalled that SEC N Ramesh Kumar deferred polls to ZPTC, MPTC, municipal bodies and gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh scheduled for March 21, 23, 27 and 29 citing Coronavirus scare. The SEC deferred the polls for six weeks.

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