Andhra Pradesh poll body invokes plenary powers, sacks senior bureaucrat

Hyderabad: In an unprecedented move, the Andhra Pradesh State Election Commission (APSEC) has invoked its plenary powers and sacked a senior bureaucrat, for allegedly attempting to subvert the election process announced for local bodies.

The APSEC has accused its joint director, GV Sai Prasad, of attempting to paralyse the functioning of polls by “deserting without intimation” and influencing the commission’s employees to go on en masse leave to derail the poll process.

The poll body has announced to “summarily discharge” the official “to safeguard the integrity of ongoing election process in the state”.

Terming it a “dismissal with disgrace” and not an honourable discharge, the commission said the official being removed from the service “will not be entitled for any terminal benefits and barred from entering any other government service either directly or indirectly”.

Ever since the APSEC announced the poll schedule for urban and rural local bodies for February, after postponing it from March last year owing to Covid-19 outbreak, the ruling YSR Congress and a few government employee associations have been opposing it.

Some of the associations had even threatened to boycott the polls, citing fears over the new strain of Covid-19 and claiming that nearly a fifth of government staff had got infected with the virus during the recent Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls in Telangana.

Taking into account the apprehensions and the safety of the government staff who would be deployed for poll duty, the commission has sought priority status to them in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, apart from quality PPE Kits, face shields, gloves and disinfectants, and safety training.

On Monday, the APSEC said it had found “certain grave acts of indiscipline and breach of code of conduct” on the part of joint director Sai Prasad which were “detrimental to the functioning” of the commission.

The APSEC said despite being “directed to be available in headquarters and not to be absent without prior intimation”, it was found that the senior official had placed a leave letter for 30 days and deserted his station without intimation. Further, he was also found attempting to influence the poll body employees to go on leave so as to “paralyse the functioning of the commission and detail the Gram Panchayat elections.”

This, it said, “was part of a larger design to adversely affect the functioning of the commission in the backdrop of some developments already taking place”.

In its proceedings on Monday, the commission said it considered these acts of the senior official “as acts of gross indiscipline as well as attempts to subvert the ongoing election process, which is a most serious offence of unheard proportions”.

The poll body said the acts of omission and commission of the official were not only a complete breach of code of conduct and grossly unbecoming of a public servant who has allegiance to the Constitution, but also a violation of “rule of law after the election process is set into motion”.

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