Amaravati: Less than two weeks after giving him a posting following revocation of his suspension, the Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday once again suspended senior IPS officer A.B. Venkateswara Rao.
The state government issued orders suspending the official for violating service rules by speaking to the media without permission from the government.
The Indian Police Service (IPS) officer was issued a show cause notice by Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma in April for speaking to the media on Pegasus row.
According to the notice, he violated Rule 6 of the All India Services Rules by holding a press conference without prior permission of the state government.
Venkateswara Rao, who was the intelligence chief during the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) regime, had addressed a press conference after Assembly Speaker Tammineni Sitaram announced that a House Committee will be constituted to probe the Pegasus issue.
The announcement came on the demand by members of ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) who wanted a thorough probe in the light of reported claim by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the TDP government headed by Chandrababu Naidu had purchased spyware from Pegasus.
Venkateswara Rao told a news conference that neither the intelligence wing nor any other government department had procured or used the Pegasus spyware till April 2019.
He had also stated that the people of the state are in a state of fear and anguish over the ongoing developments, and the responsibility to clear the air on the Pegasus issue lies with the state government.
In February 2020, the state government had placed Venkateswara Rao, an officer of 1989 batch, under suspension for his alleged misconduct and irregularities in purchase of security equipment.
Considered close to then Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Rao was removed as the Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, after Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy assumed office in May 2019. He was waiting for a posting.
The police officer had approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which had set aside the suspension on May 22, 2020.
The Supreme Court on April 22, 2022 dismissed the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by the state government challenging the high court order, making it clear that the suspension could be for a maximum of two years as per the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Amendments Rules, 2015. It said since the two year period was over, the suspension could no longer be in place.
In May, the state government issued orders revoking Rao’s suspension with effect from February 2022.
Though the officer had reported to the General Administration Department on May 19 for the posting, he was made to wait for nearly a month. He was finally appointed as Commissioner, Printing and Stationery.
However, within two weeks of his new appointment, he has now been suspended again.