Sunday, February 28, 2021

Law and people are victims of this ego battle.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of Supreme Court today rightly asked ‘who is acting in mala fide manner’. In response learned counsel said we had nothing to do with tiff with the individual. Judge said that he got that impression from the way appeal is drafted. This is the reality of the legal battle between CM and SEC. A Chief Minister elected by millions of people gets tangled himself with an unnecessary litigation, unsupported by law and which had every possibility of defeat in Court. Whether any officer has courage to advise him? Or does he not take any advice at all?

Our great leaders are thinking that their disputes are so great that the highest court of the nation should hear their case and give directions, repeatedly for many times.

The decision of the SC is dismissal of the Special Leave Petition. The real purpose of law is that the State must abide by the judgment of High Court. The division bench’s decision is not appealable.  The general law did not provide for appeal over such decision. Exceptionally the issue can be taken in appeal but for that you need leave of the court. When law provides for no appeal, one has to take leave of court. When leave is not granted by the High Court. Special Leave can be granted under exceptional circumstances, if the SC is convinced. The AP Government should have stopped its legal fight after the decision by the division bench. When it was asking for special leave, the SC was not convinced and rejected the leave. It is not full fledged rejection of appeal, but it is rejection of permission for appeal.

When the SLP is dismissed, the division bench decision of High Court will be the final order as the Supreme Court refused to interfere.

Jaganmohan Reddy’s dislike of N Ramesh Kumar being State Election Commission is known to all. And the fact that Ramesh Kumar is appointed by his political rival Chandrababu Naidu cannot be altered by any means. His appointment, removal and reappointment go into the history of SEC of Andhra Pradesh with judgments of High Courts and the Supreme Court.  If it is 1960s the opposition could have demanded resignation of Chief Minister for this unconstitutional act. Any leader who takes oath to act as per constitution has no right to continue in office if it is proved that he has not acted according to Constitution. If not, what is the value of the oath to the people?

The Administration of state does not depend upon the likes and dislikes of the Chief Minister or Prime Minister. Egos and dislikes have no place in Constitutional Governance. The Supreme Court has rightly refused to be dragged into the battle of egos between a Chief Minister and a Constitution office holder like State Election Commissioner.

The Government should think about possibility of ruling the state not with approvals and prior permissions of the Supreme Court or High Court always. The Jaganmohan Reddy Government is before the Courts of law for umpteen number of times and perhaps will break the record if any in this regard.

It is pathetic that an officer with independent powers like SEC must fight his own Government to conduct elections to panchayat bodies, which is the duty of Government.

In the battle of ego of two personalities the people are suffering, and democratic processes are being stalled. The rule of law along with the people in gram panchayats in AP are victims of legal battle with their money without giving them their representative government mechanism. 

The law that a CM ignored

The Law regarding the elections to local bodies and powers of the state election commission is settled and decided. But every time the Government takes every issue of SEC to the court of law. The fact is that the political executive is asking judiciary to do the job of different functionaries like an election commissioner, a chief secretary, and a leader of employee’s union. Decisions must be taken at administrative level. They cannot defer it for the final opinion of the Supreme Court.

The elections must be held according to Constitutional norms whenever the term of local bodies is completed. The main duty of the Election Commission is to conduct elections. If SEC has scheduled elections, it cannot be termed as mala fide. Not conducting elections is unconstitutional and undemocratic. This must be retold many times by the Supreme Court. Every time the AP Government wants the Supreme Court to tell them what to do.  Whether they follow the Supreme Court at least now or create a history by defying the Supreme Court also?

There are two strange things happening in our current politics. Even Supreme Court admonishes, or High Court holds, none feel ashamed of. Earlier Chief Ministers used to resign. Then there used to be demands of resignation. Now the opposition also knows that there is no point in demanding the resignation of PM, CM or ministers. Being sensitive to adverse remarks is the thing of past.

Also Read: AP SEC Ramesh Kumar has his way

And the reporters are asking Sir what happens if CM refuses to implement the judgments of the courts?

Second strange thing is: Two wings of the Government will fight with each other before the High Courts and Supreme Court. Generally, the Government must give its Advocate General or other officers to defend the SEC in case of a petition challenging his action. But we must forget those general norms totally. Now SEC must go to lawyers of his choice to fight the Government’s advocate general and others. The fee runs into crores of Rupees. The legal fighting bill of the SEC should also be paid by the Government exchequer.  Two officers of the Constitution go to Supreme Court to fight each other at the expense of the people and people have to watch the tamasha, besides being the victims!

The Governor

Most strange thing is that the Governor appoints the Chief Minister and also the State Election Commissioner. But on elections the Governor has to act on the advice of the SEC and on other administrative affairs he should take advice of the Chief Minister or Council of Ministers. Governors are the heads of the state, once called Raj Pramukhs but two of his appointees enter a legal battle. If Governor cannot do anything with this kind of affairs which consume crores of rupees of public money and cause waste of time, why he should be called the head of the state? 

Also Read: Ramesh Kumar asks for Central staff to conduct elections

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is former Central Information Commissioner and Professor of Law at Bennett University

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