Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary, government of India, and a relentless crusader of indiginous people’s writes in Andhra Pradesh, took strong objection to the comments chief minister Chandrababu Naidu made against state chief secretary LV Subramanyam.
LV, a 1983 batch IAS officer, has been appointed chief secretary removing incumbent chief secretary Anil Chandra Punetha last week by ECI.
Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu ,however, is not happy with the removal of Punetha and appointment of LV, whom the former called a co-accused (with YSRC chief Jaganmohan Reddy) and covert agent (of Jagan).
Writing a letter to all members of Election Commission Dr Sarma (Picture above) said the reported comments of chief minister amount to indirectly defaming LV Subramanyam, and itimidating all those civil servants acting under the oversight of Commission when model code of conduct (MCC) is in force.
“The comments made by Shri Chandrababu Naidu, if what has been reported is to be believed, are derogatory, detrimental to the authority of the Election Commission of India and hurting the morale of the civil servants at all levels working as a part of the election establishment,” Dr Sarma said in the letter.
He urged the ECI to initiate suitable action under relevant provisions of Representation of the People Act against Chandrababu Naidu after duly verifying the media reports to keep the morale of officials high.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Shri Sunil Arora
Chief Election Commissioner
Election Commission of India
Shri Ashok Lavasa
Election Commission of India
Shri Sushil Chandra
Election Commission of India (ECI)
Dear S/Shri Arora/ Lavasa/ Chandra,
Please recall the decision taken by the Commission a few days ago to replace Shri A C Punetha by Shri L V Subramanyam as the Chief Secretary of Govt of Andhra Pradesh on the ground that Shri Punetha had failed to consult the Commission on the ill-advised decision taken by Shri Chandrababu Naidu, the AP Chief Minister to preclude the State’s Intelligence wing from the Commission’s purview when the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into force. Shri Punetha, instead of rendering an appropriate advice to the Chief Minister in the matter, issued multiple orders that were not in consonance with the Commission’s directions and even became a tacit party to the State filing a case against the Commission, which was eventually disallowed.
In this context, it is reported (“Chandrababu Questions EC’s Appointment Of Chief Secretary LV Subramanyam”) that Shri Chandrababu Naidu went to the extent of belittling the ECI-appointed Chief Secretary by calling him “a co-accused” and as someone who worked as a “covert agent”, comments that had the indirect effect of defaming Shri L V Subramanyam and intimidating all those civil servants acting under the oversight of the commission when MCC is in force.
The comments made by Shri Chandrababu Naidu, if what has been reported is to be believed, are derogatory, detrimental to the authority of the Election Commission of India and hurting the morale of the civil servants at all levels working as a part of the election establishment. Such comments tend to belittle the democratic traditions of the country and demean the authority of the Commission which is acting in pursuance of the authority conferred on it by Article 324 of the Constitution.
To expect Shri Subramanyam or, for that matter, any other civil servant similarly placed, to defend himself/ herself individually by seeking judicial intervention in such cases would be unreasonable. Moreover, what Shri Chandrababu Naidu had reportedly stated effectively meant defiance of the Commission’s authority and even causing defamation of the Commission itself.
If ECI acquiesces in this, political leaders and political parties, unwilling to appreciate the legitimate role of the Commission, would similarly defy the Commission’s authority again and again and, in the process, hurt the interests of all such civil servants acting at the behest of the Commission during the elections.
Also, there is the possibility that persons like Shri Naidu would even victimise the civil servants who prefer to obey the orders of the Commission during the elections, rather than obeying his orders.
Against this background, I believe that the ECI should initiate cases against Shri Chandrababu Naidu urgently, after ascertaining the contents of his reported statements, under the relevant provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the Indian Penal Code, especially those provisions that relate to criminal defamation. This is imperative as a deterrent measure to ensure that the Commission can exercise its authority undeterred under Article 324 of the Constitution.
E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI