Jagan Snubbed: The Supreme Court Friday revoked the suspension of Andhra Pradesh IPS officer A B Venkateshwara Rao. An officer of DGP rank, he was Intelligence chief during the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) regime, and is considered close to former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Despite the orders from Supreme Court, will CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy accommodate him in the administration or will be on “bench”
A few days before the Assembly elections were held on April 11, 2019, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had transferred Venkateshwara Rao and asked him to report to headquarters. The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) leaders had complained to ECI that some police officers were working in favour of the TDP government.
Jagan government initiated an inquiry into alleged irregularities committed by the IPS officer in the purchase of surveillance equipment from an Israeli firm. In the process, former Intelligence chief allegedly shared critical information of national security with the firm.
The state government suspended Venkateshwara Rao, a 1989 batch officer, in February 2020 under Rule 3(1) of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969, and charged him with misconduct and indulging in acts which amount to treason. The Central Administrative Tribunal also upheld the suspension.
The IPS officer approached the AP High Court which struck down the suspension but asked Venkateshwara Rao not to interfere in the investigation against him. His suspension was extended by another six months in August 2020 by the state government.
In March, the AP Assembly passed a resolution to conduct a probe into whether the previous TDP regime had purchased the Israeli spyware Pegasus. The resolution came as the ruling YSRCP told the House it had taken note of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s comments that while her government had rejected an offer to buy Pegasus 4-5 years ago, the software had been acquired by AP when TDP chief N Chandrababu was the CM.
Reacting to the allegations of Pegasus purchase by previous government, Venkateshwara Rao held a media conference in which he said that although the NSO Group had approached the state government to sell Pegasus, it was rejected. He said that as he was the Intelligence chief at that time it was his responsibility to respond to allegations and clear the air.
This press conference did not go well with the YSRCP government. The state government issued a show cause notice to Venkateshwara Rao on April 5 stating that he violated Rule 6 of AIS Rules as he did not take permission from the state government to address a media conference.
Now that the Supreme Court has revoked the suspension on the IPS officer, it has to be seen how will Jagan take this news and where will he be placed!