A three-judge Bench of the High Court comprising Rakesh Kumar, A.V. Sesha Sai and M. Satyanarayana Murthy adjourned the hearing on the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, to August 14 and ordered that status quo be maintained till then.
The court directed the government to file a counter-affidavit in the given time and granted status quo in spite of the submission by senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi that there would be no irreparable or irreversible actions before the next hearing.
It said the matter required status quo as the petitioners feared that the government might start shifting offices to Visakhapatnam and Kurnool by taking advantage of the Bill becoming an Act upon its clearance by the Governor.
Senior advocate S. Niranjan Reddy appeared for the AP Capital Region Development Authority (AP-CRDA) which ceased to be in existence consequent on the Governor’s nod for the AP-CRDA Repeal Bill.
The petition was filed by advocate Unnam Sravan Kumar.
The court was hearing a writ petition against the decentralisation Act filed by farmers who parted with their land for the development of Amaravati capital city under the AP Capital City Land Pooling Scheme (Formulation and Implementation) Rules, 2015.
‘Threat to livelihood’
Their argument is that the decentralisation Act ignored the existing projects and those under construction across nine ‘theme cities’ in Amaravati on which a massive amount had been spent from the exchequer. The said Act posed a threat to the farmers’ livelihood and it would affect the economy of the entire State.
The petitioners further contended that the Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the impugned legislation neither conveyed any public interest nor justified the abandoning of existing capital city.
Citing some Supreme Court judgments, the petitioners asserted that there cannot be a change of policy whenever there is a change in the government or a new executive assumes office.
They prayed for recognising Amaravati as the Capital City in accordance with Sections. 5, 6 and 94 of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 and consequentially declaring the Act repugnant and void under Article 254 and violative of Articles 256 and 257 of the Constitution.
The farmers presented multiple other grounds on which they are seeking declaration of the Act unconstitutional and arbitrary.