Three capitals row: AP moves Supreme Court seeking stay on HC verdict

Andhra Pradesh has approached the Supreme Court against the High Court's ruling that only Amaravati should be developed as the capital


AMARAVATI: The Andhra Pradesh Government has approached the Supreme Court challenging the AP High Court's ruling that only Amaravati should be developed as the state's capital. A special leave petition (SLP) was filed in the apex court challenging the high court's verdict and seeking a stay on it with regard to the contentious issue.

The Andhra Pradesh Government expressed reservations against the high court's observations that the Legislative Assembly had no right to make legislations on the choice of a state capital. Stating that its (State Government's) decision to decentralise administration through the establishment of three capitals stemmed from the philosophy of ensuring development of all regions, the petition expressed concern that the high court ruling would only nullify the legislative system.

The Andhra Pradesh government also took exception to the high court's direction that it should abide by only the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Act and said that it was nothing but questioning the powers of the Legislative Assembly. Reiterating its stand that the three capitals move was only aimed at all-round development through decentralisation of administration, the State Government made it amply clear that the high court verdict is untenable and difficult to be implemented.

The salient grounds of law which were sought to be raised by the Andhra Pradesh Government through its SLP are as follows:

1. If a State, re-organised in pursuance of a Central legislation under Article 3 and 4 of the Constitution, is held to be without power, to reorganise its capital, it will be destructive of the federal structure of the Constitution.

2. The High Court held that the CRDA Act is a legislation made by the State under Article 258 of the Constitution, meaning that the State legislated the said Act as a delegate of the Union of India. When the CRDA Act was legislated in 2014, the express text of the Act, shows that the State exercised its powers under List II Entry 5 for constituting a local body. Neither the Union nor the State said that the CRDA legislation is a part of the delegation of the Union. In fact the Union Government filed an affidavit that the shifting of capitals is within the domain of the State.

3. The settled position in law in the country is that the power under Article 258 is only relatable to delegation of executive and administrative powers and not the legislative power of the Union.

4. The finding of the High Court is challenged because, assuming that the CRDA Act is legislated as a delegated power, the delegate did not follow the prescriptions of Section 6 of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. The location of the capital at Amaravati was contrary to the recommendations of the committee appointed under the Central Act. Therefore, the question of law raised is, can a decision taken by a delegate, contrary to the provisions of the Central Act, be affirmed by the High Court?

5. The findings of the High Court about non-compliance with the obligations under the LPS Rules were challenged. The CRDA had already extended the timeframe for compliance with LPS Rules, till 2024 and therefore, there was no cause for adjudication of the dispute by the High Court at the relevant stage.

6. Whether adjudication of an academic issue, that too, about the competence of legislature, a coordinate organ of governance of the State, after the withdrawal of the three capital legislation, constitutes a breakdown of the principle of separation of powers between various organs of governance, which is a basic structure of the constitution?

Three capitals row – chronology

January 20, 2020: YS Jaganmohan Reddy government introduces a bill in Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly for the creation of three capitals. Assembly adopts bill.

Earlier in the day, the AP cabinet approved the proposal to have three capitals.

January 21,2020: TDP, which was in majority then, blocks the three capitals bill in the Legislative Council.

January 23, 2020: Jagan's government passes statutory resolution seeking to abolish the Legislative Council

November 22, 2021: Andhra Pradesh Assembly passes Bill to repeal the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020;

AP Advocate General Sriram Subrahmanyam informs AP High Court that the AP government had decided to withdraw the law.

March 3, 2022: A three-judge bench of Andhra Pradesh High Court cancels three capitals plan, CRDA Act repeal; directs state to develop Amaravati as the capital and abide by the CRDA Act.

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