HYDERABAD:Former judges of AP High Court and others on Saturday filed a public interest litigation in the Hyderabad High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Act, 2014.
They sought the HC to declare the CRDA Act, which came into force with effect from December 30 last year, as unconstitutional and ultra vires of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.
In their petition, former judges justice A Gopala Rao and justice P Lakshmana Reddy, veteran journalist ABK Prasad and advocate C Sadasiva Reddy stated that the state Legislature is aware that Section 6 of the Reorganisation Act contemplated that the Central government shall constitute an expert committee to study various alternatives regarding the new capital for the successor state of Andhra Pradesh and make appropriate recommendations.
By the date of passing of the CRDA Act, the Central government had already constituted an expert committee and it had already submitted its recommendations to the Centre in respect of the identification of the location for setting up the capital of the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, they pointed out.
They contended that as per Section 6 of the AP Reorganisation Act, it is clear that the responsibility for identifying the capital for AP was taken over by the Centre and no option is given to the successor state of AP to identify its new capital, as is done in the case of Telangana where Hyderabad is declared as the capital of Telangana state.
They brought to the notice of the court that an expert committee constituted by the Union government with regard to the new capital for AP, headed by retired IAS officer KC Sivaramakrishnan, suggested that while constructing the new capital, the government shall least possible dislocation to existing agriculture systems as well as ensure minimum resettlement of people and their habitations. Besides, the committee also suggested taking up vulnerability assessment from natural disasters like floods, cyclones and earthquakes and assessing the scope for minimising the cost of construction and acquisition of land for the new capital.
The petitioners told the court that a conspectus of the observations made by the expert committee make it clear that the expert committee is not in favour of locating the capital for the AP in Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri (VGTM) zone and that the thrust is towards development of entire AP by distributing the departments all over. However, the AP government is going ahead with jet speed to acquire a huge extent of land, about 7068 sq km (about 17.5 lakh) in the VGTM area for the new capital city without any express authorisation from the Centre as mandated by Section 6 of the Reorganisation Act.
“When the matter pertaining to locating the capital for the state of Andhra Pradesh is thus occupied by the Reorganisation Act, a Central legislation, the enactment of the CRDA Act by the State Legislature locating the capital for the state of Andhra Pradesh is clearly in the teeth of Article 254 of the Constitution and hence void. This legislation has no legal or constitutional validity and being patently unconstitutional, it deserves to be struck down by this Court”, they noted.