The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Andhra Pradesh High Courtâ€™s order which had set aside the suspension of senior police officer AB Venkateswara Rao. Earlier, the High Court had directed the state government to reinstate the IPS (Indian Police Service) officer to regular service, and also to pay him the salary for the period of his suspension. Venkateswara Rao, who had been working as Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) during the term of the previous TDP government, was suspended by the YSRCP government over allegations of "endangering national security" by disclosing intelligence protocols to an Israeli defence manufacturing firm.
It was alleged that the officer committed irregularities in the procurement of aerostats and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), at the cost of Rs 25.50 crore, while stating that it would modernise the police force. Venkateswara Rao is accused of purchasing the surveillance equipment from an Israeli firm through his sonâ€™s company, abusing his position. It was also alleged that the IPS officer had tried to go ahead with the move despite objections from other senior police officials.
Venkateswara Rao was suspended by the state government in February, as per All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had upheld the suspension, and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had also confirmed the suspension in March, on the request of the state government. However, in May, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had set aside the suspension orders. The Andhra Pradesh government then filed an SLP (Special Leave Petition) challenging the High Court order.
According to Times of India, the Supreme Court has directed Venkateswara Rao to file a counter affidavit within three weeks, and the next hearing in the matter will take place after six weeks. Venkateswara Rao, who is considered close to former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Rao, was removed as the intelligence chief after CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy assumed office in May 2019.