In a major development only days before the polling in Andhra Pradesh, the Election Commission of India (EC) on Friday shunted out Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Anil Chandra Punetha for allegedly defying its order to transfer three top police officials.
The poll panel has appointed L.V. Subrahmanyam, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of 1983 batch, as the new Chief Secretary.
The EC directed that Punetha, who is due to retire next month, should not be given any election-related posting.
The move came four days after the EC summoned Punetha and reportedly pulled him up for defying its order to transfer three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, including State Intelligence chief A.B. Venkateswara Rao.
On March 26, the EC had ordered transfer of Intelligence Director General Rao, and Superintendents of Police of Srikakulam and Kapada districts. The same night, the Chief Secretary issued an order transferring all the three officials.
However, the next day he issued an order cancelling the transfer of Intelligence chief and notifying transfer of two other officers. Punetha, also issued another order the same day listing the police officers to be designated for election-related duties. The list included officers from police constable to the Director General of Police but exempted the DG, Intelligence.
The state government had also challenged the transfer of police officials but the Andhra Pradesh High Court refused to intervene in the EC order and ruled that the Intelligence chief must be transferred. The court also pulled up the state government for issuing an order to reverse the EC’s decision.
Kumar Vishwajeet was later appointed by the EC. A 1994 batch IPS officer, Vishwajeet was serving as the Chairman of the State Level Police Recruitment Board and was one of three names recommended to the ECI.
Elections to the 175-member state Assembly and all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state are scheduled on April 11.