The contemporary political scenario has affected the law making process drastically, ever since the Acts such as that of Citizen Amendment Act, 2019 were enforced, and question of validation of such policies on constitutionally developed principles is to be scrutinized. Similarly, the recent policy of Andhra Pradesh Government to have 3 capitals, unlike that of any other State, having single capital is to be scrutinized. This paper is to explore Constitutional validity of the proposed policy that put forth the idea of having three capitals namely Amravati as the Legislative head, Visakhapatnam as Executive head and Kurnool as judiciary head of the newly formed Andhra Pradesh State under “Andhra Pradesh Decentralization and inclusive Development of All Regions Bill” (hereinafter to be referred as Bill) repealing the earlier APCRDA Act.
The bill though getting assent of the governor and having the status of Act; I prefer calling it has bill because this major decision was taken against the will of the people and those farmers who are protesting even today and the constitution validity of same is challenged in Supreme Court.
This article was submitted by Poonam Boob, Jagarlamudi Chandramouli College of Law, Guntur
Significance of capital to a State
Right after independence, Indian States had made head of British presidency area as the capital of their respective States instead of developing the new capital area mainly appended due to low grading Indian economy that could not afford developing new capital area at that time. However, the newly formed States then, that were divided territorially based on their language namely Andhra Pradesh from Madras presidency, Mysore later renamed as Karnataka, Gujarat from Bombay presidency built their own capitals. The major dramatic move took place in year 2014 on 7th February when two Telugu speaking States were bifurcated following Hyderabad to be joined capital for 10 years. The move was welcoming for Telengana because they had everything they wanted including developed capital, Hyderabad
The main purpose of a State capital is to provide center for management of the administration but the decentralization has been the foremost part of Indian Constitution after the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment.
However the implementation of the same countenance several loop holes that remains unaddressed, similarly the proposed bill highlights the decentralization of the administration being controlled from different capitals within the State, as we see that when the administration is headed in one State capital there are still gaps in communication of one branch with the others and in such circumstances the proposed Bill stifles the possibility of no communication between the different organs of the State. At the same time for the faster communication, the organs may quietly depend on the fastest mode of communication i.e., internet and in such circumstance the legislators should also ensure the availability of power all time i.e., 24/7 and the security of the information to maintain the confidentiality of the transaction taking place.
Challenges and solutions.
The challenge to this policy may be mostly on upright of doctrine of “Treaties of Separation of Power”, that clearly states that the organs of the Government act as checks and balances to the policies of each other. Undoubtedly, independent judiciary is one of the important characteristics of a vibrant democracy, and when legislature and executive are in two different States there should be three divisional benches of the High Court for proper administration of the democratic institutions.
The former government had called for farmers to give their lands for development of capital area in Amravati under land pooling scheme as per the benefits offered to farmers, later to which the 29.254 small and marginal farmers voluntarily offered 33.771 acres of their land under the said scheme for the establishment of the Capital city of Amravati. Further, the Government also included 19,876 acres of its land to the above pool after obtaining clearances from ministry of Environment. The Government of India planned ‘Green Field’ Capital city in total area of 53,647 acres.
The total land pooled: 33,771 Acres.
Land earmarked for common facilities like roads, parks etc (50%): 16,885.50 Acres.
Farmer share (25%): 8442.75 Acres.
Balance available with government: 8442.75 Acres.
And, the current Government while designing the new policies should not give up on the will and welfare of the people. The land that has been taken under land pooling is no more good for cultivation, in such circumstances when pandemic has hit hard upon those innocent farmers the government should not just make a proposal of compensation or such, as these may not help them in long coming periods instead the government should consider pooled land for the development of legislative capital area Amravati. The State now is at a dead end; the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Multinational companies from Singapore and Japan and Central Government that invested in the capital area development of Amravati, have taken back their investments due to hard crisis in the State and lack of interest of the present government in development of the invested land, in such circumstances the government should give place and device policy in such a way that helps to attract the investment in the crisis of current pandemic to regulate the down fall of economy instead of focusing only on welfare schemes, since ‘Robin Hood’ effect is not going to help to overcome unemployment and focus on development.
The Covid-19 had just twisted the knife to be worst; pushing the State into debts. The State has debt burden of 3.73 Lakh Crore. Moreover, the government had decide to borrow 25000 crore to clear pending bills by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the consortium, and has agreed to place the income mobilized from sale of liquor, enhanced cess on petroleum products, and other taxes in escrow account to act as a guarantee for the bank loans.
Imagine one of the manifesto promises of State government was to reduce the consumption of liquor but now it is targeting to make profits out of it to clear the bills. Yet the free policies under the name of welfare schemes at hike; just imagine the government had promised to give 5000 Rupees for to every junior advocate passed after year 2016 practicing for Three years from date of enrollment. I personally know many who are availing money under this scheme just because they had cleared bar examination and don’t even have full time practice. This is just one among all those so called welfare schemes that distribute the money for free even when State is under huge debts.
Economist over the years had strongly cited down the reasons to believe why Robin Hood method of taking money and distributing it to poor does not shape development. One indeed needs infrastructure and huge investments to provide employment to the public; to allow free flow of money between individuals earned out of their hard labor and also to realize the value of money; Money when distributed freely loses its value because people think its easy come and spends it on luxuries more than necessities. Therefore Government should plan on designing policies to attract the investor in State considering already pooled available land and plans designed by previous government following changes has recommended by Sivaramakrishna committee.
The government should ensure that the policy of three capitals is designed in such a way that it would achieve all the proposed purposes, even while allocating the funds, the government should establish a delegated body which ensures that the allocated funds are being utilized properly avoiding all sort of scams and that body should be headed by independent retired executive or judicial authority to maintain transparency and independent nature.
In conclusion, the policy devised sounds good for the decentralization and development of area propounding the principle of economic justice, at the same time while doing so; the Government should ensure the promises made by them are fulfilled. Instead of making a proposal of ordinance to remove the Legislative Council as the bill didn’t pass in council, the government should consider to take up the pooled land for the development of newly formed legislative capital because if in case the ordinance and the proposed Bill is passed, when challenged in the Court, the ordinance and the Bill will definitely fail to pass the test laid under Article 14 of the Constitution.
The test under Article-14 clearly states absence of arbitrariness and reasonableness but the proposed bill while repealing the existing APCRDA Act is arbitrary in its nature and moreover it is against principle Act i.e., Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014. The Part 2 Clause 6 of 2014 Act clearly states that the central government has discretion to setup an expert committee to look upon various alternatives for formation of new capital and clause 94(3) enumerates that the central government shall provide financial support for creation of essential facilities for formation of new capital.
The Central government considering the same had constituted Sivaramakrishna committee that had proposed ideology of sustainable & decentralize development for Andhra Pradesh and the committee by decentralization meant to develop and decentralize the local governance. Therefore the A.P government should consider making few changes in the bill to go in nexus with committee recommendations and Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014 to satisfy the test under Article 14 of the constitution and also to satisfy the constitutionally established principle of cooperative federalism.
Finally, the A.P. Government should be ready to face the consequence if the proposed policy fails as it would just be termed as ‘Tugluq Policy of 20th century’ because the newly formed State though having 3 capital, may be left without proper administration, unemployment at stakes with markets down and finally once the State that was consider to be one of the top 10 GDP contributors of Indian economy would be left with nothing. It’s high time the government recognizes the frugality of the policy and if such policy could not be properly executed then off-course, government should stick to the policies that were already being followed and taken up by other States but if this policy is executed properly by overcoming all the loop-holes then Andhra Pradesh could set example for decentralization and functioning of the democratic system to all other States achieving the constitutionally established directive principles.
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