In a virtual slap on the face of Telugu Desam Party government in Andhra Pradesh headed by chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the state high court on Friday refused to stall the orders of the Election Commission of India on transfer of three IPS officers, including state intelligence chief A B Venkateshwar Rao.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Praveen Kumar, which heard a petition filed by the Naidu government and also the arguments of the EC counsels on Thursday, delivered its judgement on Friday.
The bench categorically declared that it could not interfere in the powers of the Election Commission in this regard.
“There is no case of any interim relief to the government,” the bench said.
On Tuesday night, the EC ordered transfer of Director General of Police (Intelligence) A B Venkateshwara Rao, Srikalulam SP Venkata Ratnam and Kadapa SP Rahul Dev Sharma with immediate effect and attached them to the police headquarters.
The EC acted on a complaint from YSR Congress party general secretary and MP V Vijay Sai Reddy on alleged illegal surveillance and tapping of phones of the opposition party leaders.
The three cops were directed to hand over their charge to the senior most officials in their respective offices and were barred from taking up any election related work.
Following the high court order, the state government will now be compelled to surrender Venkateshwara Rao to the headquarters and send a panel of three IPS officers to the EC to appoint as intelligence head during the election period. The two SPs have already reported to the state police headquarters.
The state government argued that the EC had transferred the top cops on the basis of complaints from opposition YSR Congress party without giving any chance to them for presenting their views.
The EC counsel argued that the transfers were not a punishment and were well within the rights of the Commission. As such, there was no need for issuing any show-cause notices or seeking explanation from the transferred cops.