An ordinance or executive order by the Andhra Pradesh government, cutting down the tenure of its Election Commissioner, was questioned by the Supreme Court today. "We are not satisfied that your motives were entirely innocent. How can you pass an ordinance like this?" questioned Chief Justice SA Bobde, who was leading the three-judge bench hearing the state's appeal.
The state government went to the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking a stay on the High Court's orders reinstating retired IAS officer Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner.
In April, the state had abruptly removed the Election Commissioner, passing an ordinance to reduce the tenure from five years to three years. The ordinance also sought to appoint a judicial officer of the rank of a high court judge as the State Election Commissioner.
That ordinance was struck down by the High Court in an order which the srtate has challenged.
Rakesh Diwedi, who was representing the Andhra Pradesh government, argued that the High Court has found that decision ultra vires, meaning beyond its legal power or authority. "The provision for the appointment has been struck down. How can the incumbent continue in his post?" the senior advocate asked.
The top court declined to freeze the High Court order reinstating the Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar, but said it would examine the state's appeal.
N Ramesh Kumar -- who was appointed to the post by the previous Chandrababu Naidu government -- had refused to conduct rural polls in March in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
The state had appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court, but the court had upheld the deferment.