This Article is submitted by –
- Kona Sai Vedasvi
The Act- Explained:
The state legislature of Andhra Pradesh has passed the – The Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 (L.A. Bill No. 1 of 2020) and The Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill, 2020 (L.A. Bill No.2 of 2020). On July 31, 2020 the acts were signed and were to be immediately effective.
The act’s purpose is to decentralise power in the state of Andhra Pradesh and to provide an inclusive governance in the state. The bill divides the whole state into zones and each such zone will be governed by a board formed by the Government officials.
The main and challenged element under this act is section (7) that provides that –
In the State of Andhra Pradesh, there shall be to three Capital(s) as the three (3) Seats of Governance.
The seats of Governance of the state are distributed as follows –
- Amaravati would be the ‘Legislative Capital’
- Visakhapatnam as the ‘Executive Capital’; and
- Kurnool as the ‘Judicial Capital’.
Andhra Pradesh is the first state in India to have three capitals with distribution or decentralization of governance. Many Indian states had addressed the need for multiple capitals in the past for the particular state and introduced acts for the same.
Statement of objects and reasons of the Act:
The Government of Andhra Pradesh – YSR Congress party in this act, has envisaged for decentralising governance and power in the state by the process of establishing three capitals.
The bill laid its authority and competency to establish the same by stating Article 38 of the constitution as follows-
“Article 38 of the Constitution envisages that the State shall direct its policy, among other things, towards securing inclusive development of all regions of the State.”
To offer impact to this constitutional provision, the annexure to the act mentions that the State of Andhra Pradesh is bringing this enactment, for dispersion of all state capacities/functions among all the locales of the state and also the decentralization of developments in an attempt to ensure there is balanced comprehensive development of the State of Andhra Pradesh.
This bill was based on the recommendations given by High Power Committee constituted by the state Government.
The issue with the Acts-
The two main reasons this act had been challenged in the High court of Andhra Pradesh are –
- The repealing of Capital Region Development Authority Act, which was passed to build the new capital of Andhra Pradesh in Amaravati.
- The AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 that provides for three capital development in the state.
Both the acts are put on stay and an order of “status quo” has been delivered by the High Court till September 21st. High court has also put the proceedings on hold and ordered the Governement of AP to file a counter affidavit to the PIL that challenged the act, filed by a farmers’ organization, Rajadhani Rytu Parirakshana Samithi.
Issues for consideration before the High court-
Whether the act is constitutional or not.
The Government has followed the said procedure for implementing an act by first, introducing the bill in the state legislature, secondly a committee called as High Power committee, was appointed to research, discuss, and make changes to the bill. Thirdly, by taking the recommendations by the committee into consideration, the bill was passed in both the chambers and sent to the consent of the Governor. Finally, the governor – Biswabhusan Harichandan has signed the bill and further the act came to be in force.
Under the Article 245 (1) of Indian Constitution “Subject to the provisions of the Constitution the state Legislature may make laws for the whole or any part of the State.”
The petitioner has to prove that the act AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 and/or repealment of Capital Region Development Authority Act are in violation of provisions of the constitution in order to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the acts.
This is when the presidential order comes into picture.
The order by president dated 26th December, 2018 analysed Article 214 of the Constitution which provides that there shall be a High Court for each State and the Supreme Court judgement in the case of Union of India Vs. T. Dhangopal and Ors which held that a notification is to be issued so as to the functioning of the high courts of two states- Andhra Pradesh and Telangana be separate.
In the gazette of India, extraordinary, part ii, section 3, sub-section (ii), the President under the powers conferred by Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 30, sub-section (1) of section 31 and sub-section (2) of section 31 of the act, constituted separate High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh, and seated it at Amaravati in the State of Andhra Pradesh.
The present act of AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 has went against this order by the president as the act provides the provision for establishment of High court in the city of Kurnool under section 8 (iv).
The high court needs to see whether the President’s order has been violated by the present act or if there are provisions for the same to be upheld. The order mentioned the high court to be seated in Amaravati and not the “justice capital” of the state. Hence the reasons to violate the order need to be substantiated by the state Government.
Violation of Articles 254 and 256 of the constitution:
Article 254(2) provides that when there is an existing law made by state legislator, if it has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent, then that law shall prevail in a conflict of laws.
Article 256- The executive power of each State will be so practiced as to guarantee consistence with the laws made by Parliament and any current laws which apply in that State.
The petitioners in the present case have argued that there is violation of Articles 254 and 256 as one of the issues under consideration before the High court. The existing law present in the state that had received the assent of the president would be Andhra Pradesh reorganisation act, 2014.
Section 31 (2) of the act states that “The principal seat of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh shall be at such place as the President may, by notified order, appoint.” By the President’s order dated 26th December, 2018, the high court was seated at Amaravati.
Whether they Violate section 5, 9 and 94 of Andhra Pradesh reorganisation act, 2014 or not:
Section 5 (2) of the act states that – There shall be a new capital for the State of Andhra Pradesh.
Which was pointed out by the legal experts that the wording was a new capital meaning it to be singular and unitary which the new act violates. The interpretation needs to that of a literal sense in this situation.
Section 9 – It is upon the Central Government to constitute a committee with experts, if there arises a need for new capital or to study various alternatives regarding the new capital for the State of Andhra Pradesh. And the recommendations by this committee need to be appropriated within 6 months of enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
The committee for formation of three capitals has been constituted by the state Government.
Section 94 –“The Central Government, if necessary, shall facilitate for the creation of a new capital for the State of Andhra Pradesh.”
It has to be taken into account that the central Government had specified that law and order is a state subject and that the centre would not intervene with the same.
In the counter-affidavit filed before the High Court at Hyderabad, in case of a writ petition filed by Poluri Srinivas Rao on the grounds of denial of Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, the Central Government stated the following,
“The capital city of a state is set by the respective Government of the state. There is no role of the Centre involved.”
Is there a Threat to livelihood?
Another argument by the petitioners is that the decentralization Act disregarded the current tasks and those under development in Amaravati. A gigantic financial capital was invested and spent by the exchequer for the same. They stated that this Act posed a threat to the livelihood of famers who had offered their lands under AP Capital City Land Pooling Scheme Formulation and Implementation Rules 2015. It would also affect the economy of the whole state.
- The petitioners prayed for recognizing the capital city of Andhra Pradesh as Amaravati in accordance with AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.
- To declare the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 repugnant and void under and violative of Articles 254, 256 and 257 of the Constitution.
- To declare AP Capital Region Development (Repeal) Act, 2020 along with the act above mentioned “ultra vires” to the Constitution of India.
Present state of affairs-
The high court has ordered “status quo” to be maintained regarding the new acts and had put a stay order on the implementation of the same. This order has been extended till 21st September, 2020 and the High court had issued an order for the respondents to file counter affidavits by September 11th and the petitioners are to file reply by September 17th.
“The views of the authors are personal“