Debate : Point & Counterpoint

Debate : Point & Counterpoint

With Seemandhra people up in arms against the Congress decision to bifurcate the State, various issues that have never been discussed openly are...

With Seemandhra people up in arms against the Congress decision to bifurcate the State, various issues that have never been discussed openly are coming into sharp focus from the three regions. We have run a five-part series highlighting the Srikrishna Committee Report’s observations on key issues and asked our readers to respond.

The views and counterviews will be published in these columns. They can be either directly related to the subjects mentioned in the Report or on carving out a separate state. They articles should be written in English, not exceeding 800 words, and to the point. Please mention the complete address with phone number. Also attach a passport size photograph and mail to

PILs against bifurcation:State of Hyderabad case
Sri Kishen’s petition prayed for issuing an appropriate writ to the Govt of Andhra Pradesh restraining it from functioning under the provisions of the States Reorganization Act.
In this season of demands for fragmentation of Andhra Pradesh and Public Interest Litigations (PILs) against bifurcation of the State it would be relevant to draw attention to what happened in 1956. Sri Kishen, an elderly and respected barrister of long-standing at the Bar in the High Court of Hyderabad, though not in active practice then, wrote to the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru against the proposed disintegration of Hyderbad State.
Nehru ignored it. So in April 1956, he filed a case in the High Court of Hyderabad against the proposed disintegration. The list of respondents, including the PM, the Vice-President, the Speaker of Lok Sabha, et al was quite large. According to him it was mala fide and, if successful, would not only injure the people of Hyderabad, in general, politically, socially and economically but would affect him 'most adversely' and would give him a 'mental shock to see the land of his birth torn asunder'.
He contended that it could not be said that legally and constitutionally Hyderabad ceased to exist or merged with or acceded to the Indian Union as the Constituent Assembly, 'solemnly assured' by Nehru and Patel, had not been convened. He was so much worked up that, during his submission, he fainted, fell down and had to be hospitalized. The case was adjourned.
He filed another petition on 21st June 1956, after the States Reorganization Bill was introduced in the Parliament.
The case was heard afresh by Justices Jaganmohana Reddy and Vithalrao Deshpande. The bench felt that the petition suffered from all the infirmities that a petition of that nature could suffer from and held that there was an inherent right in the legislatures to conduct their affairs without any interference from any outside body and so no writ could be entertained to restrain the legislatures even if it was ultra vires of their powers, until it became a law.
The legislature's powers not being complete. the courts could not reach them. The judiciary did not have a general or roaming superintendence over an undefined field nor was it their function to declare void or directly annul a law immediately it was promulgated unless its interpretative function was sought by any person or party challenging the law as having infringed his/her right on the ground of its being ultra vires of the legislative body. The case was dismissed.
The matter ended there -- as far as the High Court of Hyderabad was concerned. What happened later is equally interesting...
The issue of disintegration of the State of Hyderabad was raised once again, now in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at its first meeting inHyderabad on 5th November 1956, just after the formation of Andhra Pradesh.
Again it was by Barrister Sri Kishen. His petition prayed for issuing an appropriate writ to the Government of Andhra Pradesh restraining it from functioning under the provisions of the States Reorganization Act. During the hearing, the Government pleader questioned the maintainability of the petition and how the interest of the petitioner was violated.
Sri Kishen became emotional, suddenly broke down and began to cry loudly. Chief Justice Koka Subba Rao and Justice Jaganmohana Reddy, who were on the Bench, heard him in full. In their judgment, they held that the disintegration of the State of Hyderabad was constitutionally valid and dismissed the petition. (Sri Kishen vs State of Andhra Pradesh, ILR, 1957, Andhra Pradesh, 305).
In this week, the Supreme Court turned down the 'premature' PIL of PV Krishnayya. It would be worthwhile for those who raise PILs to know when such petitions would become 'mature' enough to be presented before the judiciary and on what grounds the petitioners could make them entertainable and justiciable.
(The writer is J P Naik National Fellow, Dept of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad)
Ensuring identity for tribals in new states
There are weird demands by some to even chalk out Telangana state by clubbing tribal districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakaulam and Vizianagaram, so that Telangana state will have access to the sea!
Tribal identity and representation of tribal aspirations in current political developments is a very critical issue. Recent writings of Rama Melkote and E Revathi in The Hans India are evidence of the importance of the issue. This is not a rejoinder to the article written by Revathi in these columns with a caption Adivasis & Telangana on 27th August, although it does refer to it only to highlight why the tribal question is critical and how it is marginalised in the current discourse on separate states. The debate whether Telangana can represent the identity of Adivasis or their region is still unanswered.
There are several issues raised in these articles and the debate among several groups in the state. Let me draw the attention to a few important questions that require attention. Has tribal identity been represented by Telangana identity or Seemandhra identity? Will tribal aspirations be fulfilled by the new states? Is tribal identity contradictory to the identity of Telangana or Seemandhra states?
That tribal unrest continued for decades and intensified since the formation of Andhra Pradesh is indisputable. Several studies and Girglani Report have underscored the growing immiserization and alienation of the tribal peoples from the governance. Despite varied social mobilisation in the tribal belt of the state the exodus of non-tribals and the exploitation of the tribal people and resources has not been arrested. Recent movement for separate Telangana and the counter Seemandhra’s Samaikyandhra movement have totally ignored the aspirations of the tribal people’s struggle for justice.
These movements have ignored the tribal cause totally despite token sympathy occasionally but prevented the emergence and strengthening of the voices of the tribals. There seems to be no hope of justice for the tribal people in the new states as these states are going to be carved out on the sharing of the spoils. Tribal regions have become commodities for the politicians of both sides.
There are weird demands by some to even chalk out Telangana state by clubbing tribal districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakaulam and Vizianagaram, so that Telangana state will have access to the sea! There is total silence on compelling the tribals to pay for the price of bifurcation, in the form of distributing river Godavari and Polavaram project in exchange of the Telangana state. This very silence is the indication of not only failing to represent tribal aspirations but also exposing the hollowness of Telangana identity as a consolidation of the tribal interests. More interesting, the claims of aspirants and opponents of separate Telangana statehood focus on haggling over Bhadrachalam division including the temple town of Bhadrachalam, in Khammam district with underlying interests, which are predictable.
The claimants of both the regions wanted to capture the temple town which is a revenue spinning house for the tourism sector. Besides, the Seemandhra people have added interest to see the construction of Polavaram project in smooth manner without any future opposition from Telangana region. In fact, the entire Bhadrachalam agency division is a traditional tribal territory, situated in the Scheduled Area. Unfortunately the crusaders for and against Telangana have failed to acknowledge this fact and rights of adivasis over their domain.
Whether demand for a tribal state, which has been raised time and again since 1986, is anti- Telangana or anti-Seemandhra is crystal clear of the fact that the tribal peoples don’t see the separatist movements as consolidation of the voices of the exploited and the oppressed tribal peoples in the state. The tribal state demand is not against or favourable to the new states, it is only assertion of the truth that their identity is based on unique and distinct cultural and socio-political legacy. Also a spiritual cultural order that respects nature as the savior and to be protected for future generations which the consumerist development models of the new states do not imbibe or advocate in their new social order after the new states are carved.
Attempts for bifurcation of the State should not interfere with the Schedule Areas of the State. The Indian Constitution provides a series of safeguards for the tribal people. General and special provisions are also applicable to tribal communities. The President and the Governors of the respective 5th Scheduled State are primarily responsible for safeguarding the provisions enshrined in the Constitution. The Tribal Advisory Council is set up, especially in the Fifth Schedule States, to advice on all matters pertaining to the welfare and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes under Article 244(1). Thus any decision of the UPA affecting the Scheduled Areas while carving Telangana from Andhra Pradesh should consult the constitutional body i.e Tribal Advisory Council.
(The writer, an advocate, is a tribal rights activist)
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