VIJAYAWADA: The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order that quashed the state government’s ordinance which changed the tenure and eligibility of the State Election Commissioner (SEC).
A division bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy was hearing a petition filed by the state government challenging the High Court order. The bench deferred the hearing by two weeks. During the hearing, the CJI observed that the state government’s motives do not appear to be entirely innocent.
Senior counsels Rakesh Dwivedi and Mukul Rohatgi, arguing on behalf of the government, submitted that the High Court verdict held appointment to the office of SEC “in the discretionary space of the Governor”, which is contrary to the judgement of the apex court in the Shamsher Singh case. In other words, the HC verdict means the Governor can use his discretionary powers to appoint the SEC without recommendation from the Cabinet.
Rohatgi also argued that the High Court went into the question of motives of the ordinance, which is not a ground for deciding on the matter. At this point, the Chief Justice of India observed that the High Court had quashed the ordinance on the basis of the spirit of the Constitution, which is a new ground.
SC to take up govt plea after 2 weeks
Dwivedi submitted that the restoration of Ramesh Kumar to the office of the SEC was violative of the spirit of the Constitution, going by the logic of the High Court order. Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi prayed for a stay on the High Court judgement. In response, the Chief Justice said the court is not inclined to stay the judgement now and the hearing will be taken up after two weeks.
On May 29, the HC struck down the Ordinance promulgated on April 10 by the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government, curtailing the tenure of the SEC, and also quashed the subsequent Government Orders appointing retired judge V Kanagaraj as the new SEC and restored Ramesh Kumar to the post.