But if we find notification unconstitutional, we will set the clock back. Without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Bench posted final hearing to August 20.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the March 1 notification to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and Seemandhra with effect from June 2.

A three-judge Bench told senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan that it would not interfere with the Centre’s policy decision as granting stay would amount to granting the “final relief” itself.

Without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the Bench posted final hearing to August 20 and indicated that if it decided to refer the issue for adjudication by a five-judge Constitution Bench, it would frame questions.

Earlier, Mr. Dhavan pleaded for the status quo on the bifurcation, contending that the government had failed to follow due procedure. Though the Assembly had rejected the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, the Centre’s attitude seemed to be “we don’t care what you [Assembly] do. We will do what we want.”

Irreparable damage

Member of Parliament Arun Kumar explained to the court how the Bill was passed in Parliament after suspending and evicting 17 MPs. He said irreparable damage would be caused if the bifurcation was allowed for political reasons.

When Justice H.L. Dattu observed that an interim order was not warranted, Mr. Dhavan said if the bifurcation was allowed, things would become irreversible. Justice Dattu assured him that if the court found the notification unconstitutional, it would set the clock back.

The Bench, which included Justices M.Y. Eqbal and S.A. Bobde, was hearing a batch of writ petitions filed by the former Chief Minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy, former Ministers and MLAs and senior advocate P.R. Krishnan, who said the reorganisation law was violative of various Articles of the Constitution.

The bifurcation was “in breach of federalism, one of the basic features of the Constitution. The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, was “unfair and unreasonable to the people of the Andhra region”

Also, they said, the Bill was cleared in the Lok Sabha within 23 minutes on February 18, 2014.

In the Rajya Sabha, it was passed on February 20 without carrying out the amendments suggested by members.