CONTENTION OVER 3 CAPITALS OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Recently, the Andhra Pradesh High Court directed the State government to construct and develop Amaravati, the capital city of the State, and the capital region within six months.
The AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 was enacted by the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly.
The bill aims to give structure to the state government's plan for three capitals: executive, legislative, and judicial in Visakhapatnam, Amaravati, and Kurnool.
Multiple state capitals, according to the administration, will enable the development of diverse regions of the state, resulting in inclusive growth.
However, the Andhra government had earlier bought around 30 thousand acres of property from farmers in and around the Amaravati region. As a result, the decision to change the capital may have an impact on the majority of the farmers in the area.
In November 2021, the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Repeal Bill, 2021, aiming to repeal the earlier laws that stipulated a three-capitals plan for the State was passed.
CURRENT RULING OF HIGH COURT
The State legislature lacked the authority to pass legislation relocating, bifurcating, or trifurcating the capital, according to the High Court.
The government and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) were ordered to carry out their responsibilities under the A.P. Capital Regional Development Authority (CRDA) Act and Land Pooling Rules, according to the court.
It ordered the state to develop the landowners' reconstitutional plots and hand them over to them within three months.
Section 10(1)(c)(i) of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2014, mandates the regulation of development activities in accordance with development plans and regulations, as well as the enhancement of aesthetics, efficiency, and economy in the development process within the jurisdiction of the Capital Region Development Authority.
The HC held the view that the agreement signed between the farmers and the CRDA is a Development Agreement-cum-Irrevocable General Power of Attorney and it is a statutory contract.
The violation of terms and conditions by the respondents — State and APCRDA — warrants interference of this court, while exercising power under Article 226 of the Constitution.
Article 226 of the Constitution empowers a high court to issue writs including habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, prohibition and quo warranto for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the citizens and for any other purpose.
The court held that Parliament alone is competent to deal with the setting up of legislature, executive and judicial organs of the state, and this was implicit in the language employed in Article 4 of the Constitution.
Article 4 allows for consequential changes in the Ist Schedule i.e. names of the States in the Union of India and IVth Schedule i.e. a number of seats allotted in the Rajya Sabha for each state.
CONCERNS RELATED TO MULTIPLE CAPITAL
Balancing Legislative and Executive Function:
Separation of executive and legislative capital can be challenging. In the Parliamentary system of government, which has been adopted in India, functions of the executive and the legislature are closely connected. For example,
When the legislative assembly is in session, administrative officers are required all the time for the presentation of the bill, for briefing the ministers, etc.
When the legislative assembly is not in session, the decision making by the executive requires a lot of input from various sources including the legislators who are the representatives of the people.
The development of a region can be done through policy interventions like industrial policy. However, separating the capitals can be against the convenience of the administration as well as the people. Also, it will be logistically difficult to implement.
Decentralization in the state should be achieved by empowering local governments, such as Panchayats and Municipal Corporations, which were established after the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts were enacted.
The utilisation of several capitals as a tool for regional development should be avoided.Investment in the manufacturing and service industries, diverse policies favouring farmers and ease of doing business, infrastructure development, and development of social-cultural institutions such as colleges, hospitals, and so on can all contribute to the region's development.