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Andhra state EC moves HC, seeks contempt proceedings against chief secy, Panchayat Raj secy

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) has moved the High Court seeking contempt proceedings against the chief secretary and Panchayat Raj secretary for their alleged violation of the court’s orders regarding cooperation with the panel over holding polls to rural and urban local bodies.

In a petition filed before the bench of Justice Battu Devanand on Friday, the SEC has detailed the violations by the state’s top bureaucracy of disobeying the orders of the high court, and sought action against the two officials.

The panel wants to hold polls next February, having postponed the exercise that was due about this March.

So, the SEC has sought the cooperation of the state by way of financial and personnel allocations.

The ruling YSR Congress Party headed by chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, which had earlier fumed at the SEC for postponing polls and attempted to remove the election commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, has opposed the SEC’s proposal to hold the polls in February.

Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney and Panchayat Raj Secretary GK Dwivedi weren’t immediately reachable for their comments.

The SEC told the court that despite repeated reminders, the state government did not release funds and incorporated a stifling condition that the government’s prior sanction be necessary for incurring the expenditure.

“This has been deliberately (done) to stifle the functioning and particularly the autonomy of the commission. Elections cannot be held smoothly by laying down impossible conditions,” said the SEC.

The AP State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, who was reinstated on July 30 after a prolonged legal tussle involving the highest courts, accused the Reddy government of not just failing to provide necessary cooperation and assistance to fulfil the constitutional mandate but also of “exerting undue pressure to undermine the independent functioning of the Election Commission.”

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