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‘HC shouldn’t get into govt terrain of making laws’: Jagan lashes out over Andhra capitals order

Speaking in assembly, Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan also terms 'impossible' the six-month deadline set by the court for the government to develop Amaravati as the state’s only capital.

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Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, in his first public reaction to the high court’s 3 March order opposing his idea to establish three state capitals, said Thursday that the judiciary was “crossing its domain and trespassing into the state government’s legislative terrain of making laws”. 

Speaking in the assembly during a short discussion, he also termed “impossible” the six-month deadline set by the court for the government to develop Amaravati as the state’s only capital.

The YSR Congress Party chief stressed that his government is “committed” to its earlier plan of decentralisation of administration, and is also “exploring legal options”.

“If we are told that we cannot even pass a resolution on decentralisation of development, the line is crossed…,” he added.

The Jagan government had, after coming to power in 2019, envisaged the development of Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool as the state’s legislative, executive and judicial capitals, respectively. However, the HC verdict has come as a significant legal stumbling block to its plans. 

Calling the legislature, judiciary and executive the “three pillars” of the Constitution, Jagan said Thursday that all three must work well within their domain and not interfere with or “dominate” other domains.

“The recent verdict of AP High Court appears to be a trespass into the legislative terrain, though our Constitution has laid down the framework of the three pillars of executive, legislature and judiciary. We felt that the limits were crossed and hence this discussion had to be taken up in the house,” the CM said, adding that “courts should not get into the state government’s domain of making laws”.

Also Read: Jagan govt withdraws laws aiming to set up 3 Andhra capitals, promises ‘better’ version

The HC verdict

Earlier this month, the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordered the Jagan government to develop Amaravati, as well as the surrounding capital region, as Andhra’s sole capital city, within six months.

The order came on a bunch of writ petitions, filed mostly by farmers who had voluntarily given up their land for Amaravati to be developed as the capital, as proposed by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government in 2014. 

The court also stated in its order that the assembly had no “legislative competence” to pass any resolution or law for a change of capital, or to bifurcate or trifurcate the capital city, adding that Parliament alone is competent to deal with the setting up of legislature, executive and judicial organs of the state, and this was implicit in the language employed in Article 4 of the Constitution.

After the order was passed, State Minister Botsa Satyanarayana had said that the state government would move the Supreme Court if necessary.

‘If we cannot question, there will be no meaning to legislature’

Objecting to the court questioning the state’s “legislative competence”, the Andhra CM said in the assembly: “We have no disrespect towards the high court. At the same time, we have to respect the assembly and safeguard its decorum as well. Legislature has been in existence since long. We came here with a mandate. If we cannot question, there will be no meaning to the legislature. Who will make laws, legislature or judiciary, will remain a question mark if it is not debated.”

The CM also referred to the Sivaramakrishnan Committee, a panel of experts set up by the Centre in 2014 to study alternatives for the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, which had favoured decentralised development.

On the HC’s deadline to develop Amaravati as Andhra’s sole capital, Jagan said: “The judgment also setting a timeline on developing infrastructure and basic amenities stands impossible to execute. The Supreme Court has told high courts not to give orders that cannot be implemented… The 29 villages [of Amaravati area] form a minor fraction of the total state.”

The chief minister said the capital master plan designed during the TDP government’s tenure is for 25 years, and is set for a review every five years. 

“The estimate for basic infrastructure in 54,000 acres was worked out at Rs 1.09 lakh crore six years ago, which must have gone up many times,” he said, adding that the government had spent Rs 5,000 crore between 2016 and 2019, and cannot spend more.

“Capital region is only a fraction when compared to the rest of the state. Our agenda is all-round development,” he further said.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Year after accusing Ramana of ‘destabilising govt’, Jagan Reddy hosts CJI for tea in Vijaywada


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