AP Panchayat Polls: SEC censures 2 top IAS officers for 'dereliction' of duty; State govt rejects

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Amaravati, Jan 27 (PTI) The State Election Commission (SEC) in Andhra Pradesh has censured two senior IAS officers for alleged dereliction of duty in their work related to the gram panchayat elections.

A day after the SEC wrote to it, the state government on Wednesday rejected the recommendation that the censure would become part of their service records and would communicate the decision in a proper manner to the poll body, an official source said.

In the letter to Chief Secretary Adityanath Das, State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar said Principal Secretary Gopal Krishna Dwivedi and Commissioner of Panchayat Raj M Girija Sankar failed to carry out their duties in preparing the latest electoral rolls for the Gram Panchayat polls.

On Monday, Ramesh Kumar had told a press conference that as result of the 'dereliction' of duty by the two officials, the SCE was forced to conduct the elections on the basis of January 2019 electoral rolls.

He had also claimed that over 3.50 lakh first time voters who attained the age of 18 missed the chance to exercise their franchise in the polls, to be held in four phases next month.

The SEC had said the censure would become part of the service record of the two officials.

A top government source said that SECs recommendation was rejected by the state government on the ground that the commission was not the competent authority to initiate such action.

'The state government would not be considering that censure. It is one sided. The SEC did not seek explanation from the officials before issuing the censure. The SEC is not the competent authority. We will inform the SEC in a proper manner about the governments intention,' the source told PTI.

Talking to reporters on Wednesday, Ramesh Kumar said he was not vindictive against the two officials and if they changed their 'attitude', there could be a chance for him to rethink on the censure action.

The Y S Jagan Mohan government and the SEC have been at loggerheads over the conduct of the local body elections with the former seeking postponement of the exercise, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing vaccination programme.

While a single judge bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court earlier this month suspended the SEC's poll schedule, a division bench, allowing an appeal by the poll body, later gave the go ahead for the elections.

In a setback to the state government, the Supreme Court on January 25 dismissed its appeal against the high court order saying, 'We cannot be part of this ego battle'.

The SEC on January 23 issued the notification for the gram Panchayat elections to be conducted in four phases from February 5, with the nomination process scheduled to begin on Monday.

However, it later rescheduled the first phase while leaving the previous schedule for the subsequent phases unaltered. PTI GDK VS VS