The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Thursday questioned the State Election Commissioner (SEC) about the need to have an official residence in Hyderabad when he is working for Andhra Pradesh. The court was hearing a petition by SEC Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, in which he alleged that the Andhra Pradesh government was not cooperating to allow the proper functioning of the State Election Commission.
The SECâ€™s petition reportedly said that the government was not releasing funds needed for the Election Commission to function, Times of India reported. According to The Hindu, the SEC told the HC that the state government had not released funds worth Rs 40 lakh which were sanctioned to the Commission back in January 2020.
A division bench of Justices M Satyanarayana Murthy and Battu Devanand was hearing the case, and they reportedly observed that there was no clear proof of lack of support from the government, apart from the instances where funds were withheld. While SEC Ramesh Kumar has alleged that some posts have not yet been filled by the state government, the court has asked him to submit evidence supporting his claim.
Earlier on Wednesday, the HC had asked Ramesh Kumar to submit an additional affidavit showing proof of specific instances where the government failed to cooperate. With the affidavit filed on Thursday showing that there are pending bills worth Rs 1.13 crore to be paid to advocates hired by the Election Commission, Justice B Devanand reportedly expressed surprise over the huge amount, saying it was ultimately a loss of public money. Ramesh Kumarâ€™s counsel reportedly said that the governmentâ€™s response over the matter has implied that it will not pay advocate fees for cases filed against the government.
Government pleader C Sumon told the HC bench that funds worth Rs 110 crore have been released since July 2019, according to The Hindu. The government pleader also said that the issue of non-cooperation towards elections is not relevant until the local body polls are announced.
The local body elections in Andhra Pradesh were scheduled to be held towards the end of March, but were postponed because of the pandemic. The differences between the YSRCP government and SEC Ramesh Kumar which first became public at the time, have escalated over multiple incidents since then. Ramesh Kumar was even removed from his position and replaced, but later reinstated after directions from the HC.
On Thursday, while discussing the matter of funds not being released by the government for various purposes, the HC bench questioned the need for Ramesh Kumar to have two official residences in Vijayawada and Hyderabad, calling it a waste of public money.