HC strikes down Jagan Reddy govt ordinance, reinstates Nimmagadda Ramesh as SEC

Shreya

Hyderabad, May 29: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday ordered the reinstatement of Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner. Chief Minister Jagan Reddy's YSR Congress had also passed an ordinance amending the Panchayat Raj Act to reduce the State Election Commissioner's (SEC) tenure from five to three years. That has also been set aside.

The YSR Congress government had removed Nimagadda Ramesh under controversial circumstances after he postponed local body elections for six weeks when the coronavirus outbreak was taking hold in the state.

It alleged that Nimmagadda Ramesh's actions were politically motivated.

On Friday a division bench of the Andhra High Court, comprising Chief Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice M Satyanaryana Murthy set aside various government orders replacing him with Justice Kanagaraju, a retired judge of the Madras High Court.

The reinstatement is with immediate effect and till the end of his term, the court said, noting the state government did not have the authority to curtail the tenure of the SEC.

The court delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions, including one by Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, challenging the ordinance and the appointment of a new SEC.

Earlier this month the elections, initially postponed till April 26, were deferred for as second time, the State Election Commission announced. The notification which said polls would be postponed till further orders was issued by Justice Kanagaraj.

Amid a coronavirus pandemic that has infected over 1.6 lakh people across the country, the YSR Congress completed one year in power this week.

In its statement on the occasion, the state said Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had implemented a "slew of welfare and development programmes" and fulfilled "90 per cent of its poll promises", adding that it had also emerged as a role model in combating the novel coronavirus.

Andhra has reported over 3,200 COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths so far. As of May 26, there are nearly 15,000 people in quarantine across the state.

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