HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh State Reorganization Bill is likely to get entangled in a legal quagmire with many constitutional experts averring that the legislation would be invalid without going for constitutional amendments. This concerns proposals such as vesting special powers in the governor to control law and order in Hyderabad and the city serving as the common capital of the two states.
Apart from demanding constitutional amendments for these two proposals, the BJP has proposed 24 ordinary amendments to the Bill before the Rajya Sabha passes it. Expressing their consonance with the argument, constitutional experts say that without addressing these issues, enactment of the legislation would be impossible.
Subash C Kashyap, constitutional expert and former Lok Sabha secretary-general, said it must be first determined whether giving common capital status to Hyderabad and vesting special powers in the governor are ordinary changes to the consequent legislation or a constitutional change. “The legislation for the bifurcation of a state can be passed with a simple majority and the same applies for the consequent legislation. If the House decides it is special constitutional amendment, then it requires to be passed with two-thirds majority under Article 368,” said Kashyap.
Regarding the ordinary amendments, Kashayap said if the Rajya Sabha passes the Bill with these amendments, the Bill had to go back to the Lok Sabah for its approval. “If the Lok Sabha disagrees with these amendments, then a joint sitting of the Upper and Lower House has to be called before approving the Bill and sending it for presidential assent,” he added.
K V Dhananjaya, Supreme Court advocate said there was no provision under the Constitution to impart the status of common capital to Hyderabad without making it a Union Territory (UT). He said to make it the common capital, Hyderabad must become the eighth entry in Schedule-1 defining the UT. “If it is proposed that Hyderabad should act as a common capital to the newly carved out states, it should be designated as a Union Territory. Currently, there are seven Union Territories in India and a new entry at No.8 will have to be made in the name of Hyderabad,” Dhananjaya said.
With regard to vesting special powers in the governor to control law and order in the city which is not UT, Dhananjaya said the proposal would be unconstitutional. He argued that even a constitutional amendment cannot ensure this as the very basic structure of the Constitution would come in for a serious threat by such ill-thought out arrangements.
“A territory in India is either a state or a UT. So far as a state is concerned, the power to make laws on the subject of ‘police’ and ‘public order’ would vest with the legislature and government of that state. So far as a UT is concerned, such power is vested in Parliament and the central government. If Hyderabad should be treated as a part of one state but the state legislature and the state government therein should be prevented from making laws for that city alone, the same would not be permitted under the Constitution,” said Dhananjaya.
Former advocate general CV Mohan Reddy said without the constitutional amendment, the Bill would be self-defeating and it would give way to legal disputes. “If the Bill is passed in the present form, then anybody can move the court and defeat the legislation easily,” said Mohan Reddy.