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Common High Court Set to Generate Heat in Assembly Session

Amidst doubts over the creation of Telangana State before the elections, the proposal to have a common High Court for both the proposed States has already triggered a debate within the legal fraternity both in Telangana and the rest of Andhra Pradesh.

Published: 12th December 2013 09:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th December 2013 09:09 AM   |  A+A-

Amidst doubts over the creation of Telangana State before the elections, the proposal to have a common High Court for both the proposed States has already triggered a debate within the legal fraternity both in Telangana and the rest of Andhra Pradesh.

Though Telangana protagonists have pointed at several “objectionable clauses” in the draft bill, the one that is attracting wide debate is the common HC, particularly in the context of the split that has already come about between lawyers during the course of the agitations for and against division, sometimes even leading to fisticuffs.

Over the past few days, a series of group meetings have taken place among intellectuals, lawyers, retired judges and Telangana activists on how they should proceed on the question of a common HC.

Though, for now, an agitational path is being ruled out, the issue is likely to be raised through lawmakers in the Assembly and Parliament with the primary demand that State division should necessarily lead to two separate high courts.

“Having a State without a HC amounts to not having a State. Such a situation is bound to lead to a series of litigations over almost every decision that the prospective Telangana government is likely to take,” a senior lawyer, who did not wish to be quoted said.

Apart from university campuses, HC and lower courts in Hyderabad have been the centre of pro and anti-T activity and on some occasions, police had step in to maintain law and order.

Interestingly, lawyers’ associations in Vijayawada and Guntur too are against the proposal of a common HC but are not making an issue as of now as they believe division is unlikely before the elections.

Bezawada Bar Association president and convenor of Seemandhra Advocates JAC Matta Jayakar said they would fight against the Cabinet recommendation for a common HC. “Such a proposal is unconstitutional and we will go to SC against bifurcation,” he said.

Senior advocate Chalasani Ajay Kumar, who fought for a HC bench in Vijayawada-Guntur, too said they would not accept a common HC. “Telangana advocates already attacked their counterparts belonging to Andhra-Rayalaseema. Functioning of HC from Hyderabad will only lead to more such incidents,” he feared.

Guntur Bar Association president LVS Murthy recalled that lawyers of Vijayawada and Guntur boycotted work for more than two months a few years ago demanding a HC bench there and shot down the idea of a common court. However, he felt that AP would not be divided as there is no basis for creation of a Telangana State.

But the big question is why a common HC was proposed at all. The bill says the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad shall be the common HC for the state of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh until a separate HC is created for the residuary state under Article 214 of the Constitution.

According to those involved in drafting of the bill, such a clause became necessary as they did not have the usual time-frame that is allowed to put in place separate HCs. “Normally, the appointed date for creation of a State and the related Constitutional structures is a minimum of six months from the day the President signs the bill. But, since the political decision was to create the two States immediately after the bill is cleared by Parliament and signed by the President, we could not push the appointed date beyond elections,” a source explained.

In fact, much before the Cabinet note was approved, Union Minister S Jaipal Reddy, who hails from Telangana, is understood to have written a lengthy letter to his colleague and GoM member P Chidambaram explaining why a common HC would not work. Apparently, the time-factor has come in the way of having two separate HCs straightaway.

If lawyers from both sides of the divide begin questioning the proposal, it is possible that a time-frame for establishing a separate HC would be mentioned when the final bill is placed before Parliament.

‘Forest’ Land, Brainwave of andhra Leaders

Who wanted the proposal that degraded forest land should be denotified for facilitating the new capital of the residuary State? Even as some leaders from Andhra-Rayalaseema are ridiculing this proposal in the Cabinet note by saying that people of Andhra are being pushed from the swanky city of Hyderabad to a “forest” to build their capital, it now transpires that the specific clause was included at the behest of some leaders from those two regions. According to sources, these leaders pointed out that huge tracts of land are available between Guntur and Ongole to build a new capital but this requires denotification of forest land. Hence, they wanted a specific provision to be included lest it creates problems at a later stage.



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