The court also pulled up the state government for issuing a fresh order to reverse the EC’s decision.

AP Intelligence Chief to be transferred per EC order Twists and turns in the case
news Court Friday, March 29, 2019 - 15:41

The Andhra Pradesh High Court in Amaravati has refused to issue a stay on the Election Commission’s order transferring the state’s Director General (DG), Intelligence, A B Venkateswara Rao. The court also pulled up the state government for issuing a fresh order to reverse the EC’s decision. This comes as a big blow to the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the state.

A day earlier, the court had reserved its order on a writ petition filed by the state government seeking dismissal of the Election Commission’s order to transfer of two Superintendents of Police and the AP Intelligence Chief. The case was being heard by a division bench of acting Chief Justice C Praveen Kumar and Justice M Satyanarayana Murthy.

The controversy began on March 25 after the YSRCP sent a letter to the EC alleging that the phones of its senior leaders Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy and Talasila Raghuram, among others, were being tapped by the ruling TDP using state machinery.

On March 26, the EC issued orders to transfer Venkata Ratnam, SP of Srikakulam; Rahul Dev Sharma, SP of Kadapa; and AB Venkateswara Rao. However, the EC did not mention the reason for the transfers in the order and was criticized for it.

On March 27, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wrote to the EC to reconsider its decision.

Stating that the Election Commission of India was contradicting its own guidelines, was “being totally biased” and violating “the principles of natural justice”, Naidu questioned if the Commission had the jurisdiction to transfer the officers.

“I strongly protest the manner in which the above transfers have been ordered. It is sad that the ECI has ordered the transfer of the officers just based on a complaint given by YSRCP without a preliminary enquiry,” Naidu wrote.

Naidu also argued that the Intelligence Chief was not designated for election duty, and was only responsible for providing security to the CM, his cabinet colleagues and MLAs and MPs.

Later that same evening, Chief Secretary Anil Chandra Punetha issued two Government Orders (GO). In the first GO, the two Superintendents of Police were transferred but the transfer of Venkateswara Rao was cancelled.

The second order excluded Director General of Intelligence and other officials not related to election duty from the purview of the Election Commission. The government designated police officers under Section 28-A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 for the purpose of law and order and other duties related to the conduct of elections. It listed police personnel from constable rank to the Director General of Police but excluded the DG, Intelligence.

The state government also moved court on Wednesday, which had its first hearing on March 28.

On Thursday, the state government’s counsel reportedly questioned the legality of the transfer order issued by the EC. The counsel for the EC, in response, questioned the legality of the government order reversing the transfer of the officials. Following this, the court reserved its order, and on Friday, upheld the EC’s decision.

The tussle between the EC and state government comes just three weeks before Andhra Pradesh goes to simultaneous polls for Assembly and Lok Sabha on April 11.

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