SC declines to stay AP HC order on SEC

New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on a plea of Andhra Pradesh government challenging the order of the High Court to quash an ordinance which curtailed the tenure of the State Election Commissioner from five to three years.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justice A S Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, though issued notice on the plea, clarified that there was no stay on the implementation of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in the meanwhile. The High Court order led to the reinstatement of N Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner. Due to the ordinance, Kumar had to leave the post, as his tenure was curtailed.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi contended before the bench that the state government, through an ordinance, struck down the provision under which Kumar was appointed. The bench queried the counsel of the Andhra Pradesh government on the motive behind the ordinance. The Andhra Pradesh government contended before the top court that changes were essential to bring in transparency and efficiency in the functioning of the State Election Commission.

The bench observed it was not convinced by the contention of the state government that motive was entirely innocent. After arguments on the matter, the top court declined to entertain the state government's contention that the High Court order should be stayed.

Kumar was represented by senior advocate Harish Salve. The court has posted further hearing on the matter after two weeks.

The state government, in its appeal, cited the Andhra Pradesh Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 included following key changes — Only a retired High Court judge could be appointed as the State Election Commissioner; the term of the SEC which was earlier for a period of 5 years was reduced to three years; and the term of the existing SEC was brought to an end leading to appointment of a new SEC.

The High Court had struck down the ordinance noting it was “actuated by fraud on power and does not qualify the test of rationality and reasonableness specified in Article 14 of the Constitution.”



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