HYDERABAD: A division bench of Telangana High Court on Friday directed the State government to inform the court the need for new Legislative Assembly and Council buildings even when the existing buildings were functional.
The government has to justify its decision and to file the counter affidavit and to furnish before it the architectural and technical plans of the proposed new buildings at the 17-acre Errum Manzil, the bench directed the government.
“The petitioners contended that there is enough space in the existing Assembly and Council buildings, but the Telangana government is going ahead with its proposed project and it will be a sheer waste of public money. The government should inform the court about the need to go in for new buildings at Errum Manzil,’’ the bench observed.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akther was passing this order in PILs filed separately by Dr Lubna Sarwath, social activist, and J Shankar, a PhD student from Osmania University, seeking direction to the State government not to demolish Errum Manzil building, a heritage structure, for construction of a new Assembly building in its place.
Senior counsel S Satyam Reddy, appearing for Shankar, told the court that the government has already performed ‘Bhoomi Puja’ on Errum Manzil premises on June 27 and might now pull down the structure any time to make way for the proposed buildings.
In fact, the existing 8-acre State Assembly building, located in the heart of the city, accommodated 294 MLAs and 90 MLCs in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh government.
After the State bifurcation, the number of MLAs and MLCs of Telangana have come down to less than half i.e. 119 MLAs and 42 MLCs.
In these circumstances, what is the need for the State government to have new buildings for Assembly and Council on a 17-acre land at Errum Manzil, he pointed out.
During the course of hearing, the senior counsel urged the Chief Justice to visit Errum Manzil or appoint an expert committee to study the condition of the existing building.
The government has also decided to demolish Jala Soudha building which was built 10 years ago on the premises for the proposed new buildings, he added.
Advocate Rachna Reddy, appearing for Lubna Sarwath, told the court that the government’s decision would result in utter traffic chaos at Errum Manzil which was a thickly populated area.
Besides, the Heritage Conservation Committee had identified one of the building in Errum Manzil as a heritage structure. The government’s action would heavily impact the public exchequer as the State has debts to a tune of about Rs 1.8 lakh crore.
State additional advocate general J Ramachandra Rao contended that the courts have a limited role to play in the policy decisions of the governments.
As for the heritage issue, Errum Manzil building was not in the heritage list after the amended Act, he added. The bench then directed the government to file a counter affidavit on the issue.