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GENERAL OVERVIEW

  • In a recent judgement, Andhra High court stayed the orders of the State Election Commission directing Mr. P. Ramachandra Reddy for 'house arrest' regarding the latter’s statement which allegedly amounted a threat towards the State Election Commission (SEC) and its officers.
  • Moreover, SEC said there are no restrictions imposed on the normal responsibilities of Mr. Reddy, to attend his constitutional duties and his performing them as a Minister.
  • The statement which moved SEC; Mr. Reddy said 'The State Government would make a note of the Officers and would definitely take action against them and also blacklist them for the period in which this government is in power.'
  • The above statement was taken by the SEC as a threat and hence such measures were taken, however the Court had a different opinion to offer.

WHO IS P. RAMACHANDRA REDDY?

  • Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy, is the current MLA of Punganur, AP.
  • Took oath as cabinet minister for Panchayati Raj & Rural Development, Mining & Geology.
  • Is a prominent figure as a politician in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

COURT’S STAND ON THE ISSUE

  • From the bench of HON’BLE SRI JUSTSICE D.V.S.S. SOMAYAJULU, the initial observation was that 'The language used leaves much to be desired. Freedom of speech is not an absolute and a reasonable restriction can be imposed' taking in consideration Mr. Reddy’s statement of 'taking action against them'
  • The Court also stated that 'The power of superintendence and control over elections and its process cannot extend to passing an order restraining the petitioner from leaving his house.'. Since it was collision between two constitutionally backed up powers, the decision had to be mutually acceptable.
  • While vividly expressing the ineligibility of SEC to give out such orders, the court came out with what seemed like a 'media solution'; The Court inhibited the minister from interacting with the media till the gram panchayat elections are over by February 21.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS COLLSION OF POWER? DO YOU THINK THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SHOULD BE TAKEN IN CONSIDERATION WITH 'CERTAIN RESTRICTION’? SHOULD THE STATE ELECTION COMMISSION BE ALLOWED TO PRACTICE SUCH POWERS? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!!

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