The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Sunday lifted the February 6 'confinement' restrictions imposed by the State Election Commission on Minister P Ramachandra Reddy for his alleged remarks against it. Justice DVSS Somayajulu, while hearing a 'House Motion' filed by Reddy against the SECs order, however, directed him not to address the media.
Panchayat polls in the state are scheduled to begin from February 9 and will go on till February 21 in four phases. SEC Ramesh Kumar, in his order on Saturday said the Commission had carefully looked at various alternatives and avenues of remedial action and was invoking its plenary powers under Article 243K of the Constitution and directing the DGP to "confine" the Minister for Panchayat Raj and Rural Development to his residential premises till completion of elections.
The SEC also ordered that the minister should not talk to the media. Reddy's counsel contended that his client was not served with any notice by the Commission before issuing the Confinement Orders.
According to the SEC Order, the minister, in a press conference last week, warned Collectors and Returning Officers not to obey the instructions of the "madcap Election Commissioner" and if they do so (preventing forced unanimous elections), action would be taken against those officials and they would be blacklisted after the polls are over. Reddy also allegedly attributed political motives to the SEC, saying Ramesh Kumar was favouring the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with a view to get its MP or MLC seat in future.