New State can be carved out by a simple majority in the Parliament: Law Ministry

The government appears determined to push through the Telangana Bill in Parliament, despite clear opinion by two law officers that a constitutional amendment is required to create the new State by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh.

After the oral opinion by the law officers, the government on Wednesday referred the matter to the Law Ministry, which gave a contrasting view and said: “The Bill to create Telangana does not require constitutional amendment and the new State can be carved out by a simple majority in Parliament.”

Highly placed sources told The Hindu that the government approached a top law officer a couple of days ago and sought his advice on whether the Bill could be introduced in the Lok Sabha in its present form. He gave the view that for introducing a Bill under Article 3, no constitutional amendment would be required. But after bifurcation, a constitutional amendment would be required to ensure that the existing protection under Article 371 D and E was continued in both States.

Article 371 D lays down special provisions for giving equal opportunities in education and employment to the people of Hyderabad and it needs to be extended to the new State as well. For passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill, the government needs a two-thirds majority in Parliament, which is possible only with the BJP’s support. Officials rejected this opinion and said they would seek the advice of the Ministry, which gave a favourable opinion.

Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati had earlier suggested that before creating Telangana, the Parliament needs to repeal Article 371 D and E of the Constitution by introducing an amendment as envisaged under Article 368 of the Constitution so that the existing benefits would be applicable to both the States.