AP Govt locks horns with ECI over transfer of 3 police officials

Vastavam web: The Andhra Pradesh government Wednesday Wednesday filed a petition in the High Court against the Election Commissions directive ordering the transfer of state Director General of Intelligence and two district Superintendents of Police. Though the government immediately complied with the ECI directive on Tuesday night, it filed a plea challenging the order, even as the ruling Telugu Desam Party cried foul.

It cancelled Tuesday night’s order and issued a fresh government order Wednesday afternoon retaining the DG Intelligence in his post while transferring out the two SPs. The ECI order took a political hue with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu protesting the manner in which the intelligence chief and two district SPs were ordered to be transferred and kept out of election duties.

Camping in Kurnool for electioneering, Naidu dashed off a seven-page letter to the ECI alleging that its action was “prima facie hasty, biased, undemocratic and suffers from the principles of natural justice.” He requested the ECI to review its decision and cancel the transfer orders of the three police officials. The government, on its part, hurriedly issued a separate order on Wednesday afternoon designating certain police officers from the DGP to the rank of a constable for law and order duties in connection with the April 11 elections to the Lok Sabha and the state Assembly.

The Director General of Intelligence has been kept away from election duties, thereby excluding him from the purview of the ECI. The state government, in its petition, contended that the ECI did not have any “untrammeled powers” to interfere with the course of administration that is unconnected to polling. “The ECI cannot engage in unchecked, arbitrary and uncanalised exercise of power. The ECI order suffers from the vice of lack of jurisdiction, suffers from being a colourable exercise of power and is based on alien purposes or oblique motives which have nothing to do with the conduct of polling duties,” state political secretary (general administration department) N Srikant said in the plea filed on the Chief Secretary’s behalf.

“He should not be assigned any election-related works till the completion of current elections,” the ECI said. The same directive was issued in respect of the Kadapa district SP Rahul Dev Sharma and Srikakulam SP Venkata Ratnam (non-IPS). It further directed that the state government forward a panel of three “suitable officers” for each post along with their grading for the last five years and Vigilance clearance by 1 pm Wednesday. No reasons were, however, assigned for the sudden transfers though the TDP cried foul, alleging it was done at the behest of the YSRC. The state government chose to challenge the ECI order, as the ruling party raised a hue and cry.

“Like Mamata Banerjee who lost face preventing CBI, Chandrababu Naidu is challenging, targeting Election Commission, a constitutional body, on foolish grounds. EC yesterday ordered transfer of DG, Intelligence and two SPs in AP. He will get a rap that he wont forget for life,” BJP MP G V L Narasimha Rao said in a tweet. For Chandrababu Naidu, who has been using the police and official machinery as his party set up, the ECI decision was sure troubling, Rao said.