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Control over Hyderabad

Control over Hyderabad
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Control over Hyderabad, There is no dearth of post-bifurcation controversies rocking the two Telugu States. But the row over the gubernatorial control...

There is no dearth of post-bifurcation controversies rocking the two Telugu States. But the row over the gubernatorial control over the law and order in the Hyderabad city is developing into a major irritant in Centre-State relations. The Telangana State government, felt aggrieved by the central government’s interpretation of Clause 8 of the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganization Act, has launched a political, legal and a parliamentary battle over it.

The local BJP and the representatives of the central government argue that the recent correspondence between Union government and the States concerned is only aimed at implementing the provisions of the said act which was passed during the UPA regime. Assuming that this is true, the NDA leadership should understand that it is not mandated by the people of India to implement anything and everything done by the UPA. If so, the NDA would only be reduced to UPA-III. Therefore, the fundamental question is whether the Governor having overriding powers over a State government is valid according to the spirit of the Constitution. The Constitution does not allow a titular head to enjoy executive powers in general. The council of ministers is accountable to the legislature, whereas the legislature cannot scrutinize the functioning of Governor. It is certainly undemocratic to shift the powers from an elected State government to a nominated constitutional office.

There are inherent political dimensions, too. The BJP and the TDP share power in Andhra Pradesh and at the Centre. The institution of Governor, though a constitutional office, is often reduced to an agent of central government. The Centre most often uses this institution for its own political ends. The recent act of NDA government further reinforces this point. Therefore, any act of enlarged intervention by the Governor can be politically perceived as an intrusion into the State government domain by the central government led by the BJP and the TDP. The fact that these two parties also run the Government in Andhra Pradesh will also create an impression that one Telugu State is unduly interfering in the affairs of the other. Given this political context, the Centre should act with much more caution in this regard. But on the contrary, the Centre has acted in a hasty and haphazard manner which further complicated the issue. The statements of Andhra Pradesh political leaders and Telangana BJP leaders have given further credence to the political apprehensions of the Telangana state government.

The provisions of the Clause 8 of the Andhra Pradesh State reorganization Act reads as follows:

8. (1) On and from the appointed day, for the purposes of administration of the common capital area, the Governor shall have special responsibility for the security of life, liberty and property of all those who reside in such area.

(2) In particular, the responsibility of the Governor shall extend to matters such as law and order, internal security and security of vital installations, and management and allocation of Government buildings in the common capital area.

(3) In discharge of the functions, the Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers of the State of Telangana, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken:

Provided that if any question arises whether any matter is or is not a matter as respects which the Governor is under this sub-section required to act in the exercise of his individual judgment, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final, and the, validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in the exercise of his individual judgment.

(Source : http://reorganisation.ap.gov.in/ )

A simple reading of this clause makes the following things clear: The special responsibility is given to the Governor only because Hyderabad being the common capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh; The consultation with the council of ministers of Telangana is mandatory; Though the Governor enjoys discretionary power and can make individual judgment, it has to be exercised rarely and judiciously.

The Constitution and law make some provisions to meet emergency situations. The wisdom of the political leadership should ensure that such provisions should never be called into force to the extent possible. Even this special responsibility is enshrined in the law to meet an exigency situation. Hyderabad is geographically located in Telangana State, and therefore the writ of Telangana State government runs over it. On the other hand, Hyderabad is also the seat of the power for Andhra Pradesh government. Given this rare context, one government cannot depend on another state government for its security therefore this special provision came into existence. It therefore follows that the Governor is expected to exercise his individual judgment only in relation to the imperatives of common capital that too after consulting the council of ministers of Telangana. The Governor is not expected to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of Hyderabad police in a manner in which such an action nullifies the executive power of the Telangana State Government.

It is wrong to argue that the special responsibility was given to the Governor to protect the people of Seemandhra living in Hyderabad. Any such interpretation would only create an undesirable division between the different sections of Hyderabad population. Even if one thinks that such an interpretation is true, what about the security of Seemandhra people living in Hyderabad after 10 years when the city ceases to be the common capital. People from Seemandhra have also settled down in many other districts in Telangana. No such provision exists for those areas. What about their security?

Finally, the two key provisions of the Clause 8 of the said Act are “individual judgment of the Governor” and “consultation with the council of ministers to the Telangana.” Which should precede the other? Which should prevail over the other? A perusal of the text of Clause 8 reveals that consultation process should precede and prevail over the individual judgment of the Governor. Any attempt to give Governor an unfettered power independent of Telangana State government is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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