After the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission (SEC) yesterday issued orders
that Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy be placed under house arrest till the completion of the ongoing Panchayat elections in the state, the latter filed a house motion petition with the state's High Court, seeking a reversal of the order.
The high court heard the petition today.
In his petition, the minister had reportedly alleged that the order was "illegal" and "arbitrary", and said that the SEC had not served him an official notice asking for an explanation on the matter. He added that he would also have to leave his home as he was to be one of the government officials to receive President Ram Nath Kovind, who was to visit Reddy's native place, Chittoor district.
Senior counsel C V Mohan Reddy, who was representing the minister, told the court that the SEC Commissioner had "distorted" the comments made by the minister on which the order for the house arrest had been based.
"Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy had merely reacted to the illegal orders of the SEC Commissioner to the district Collectors of Chittoor and Guntur to not announce the results of the unanimous Panchayat elections in the two districts," he said.
Mohan Reddy also argued that the house arrest, if implemented, would violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of the minister.
Here, senior counsel B Adinarayana Rao, representing the SEC, said that the Panchayat Raj Minister had threatened the officials who had been asked to implement the house arrest orders, and that his comments were "unconstitutional" and in violation of the election code.
He also clarified that the order was not an "adversarial" one, but was one intended simply to "restrain".
After hearing the case, the court today suspended the orders issued by SEC Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar to keep the Panchayat Raj Minister under house arrest, and said that it had no objection if the minister came out of his home to welcome the President.
However, the HC did not suspend the SEC's orders banning Reddy from talking to the media.
SEC Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has recently been subject to much criticism from the leaders of the YSR Congress Party for deciding, against the wishes of the state government, to go ahead with the Panchayat elections. Some days ago an MLA of the party, K Roja, even called Kumar "insane"
for stopping the unanimous elections of local body representatives in several villages the state.