National

Supreme Court stays Andhra HC order to study ‘constitutional breakdown’ in State

Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an Andhra Pradesh High Court order intending to embark on a judicial enquiry into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State machinery under the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, requiring a declaration of President’s rule.

“Has anybody seen an order like this before... As the apex court, we find this disturbing. We are staying this order... We will take up this case immediately after the vacations,” Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde, heading a three-judge Bench, observed.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked why the High Court “should go into whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State”.

The government, represented by advocate Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki, said it was not up to the High Court to enquire and recommend Presiden’s rule in a State.

Supreme Court stays Andhra HC order to study ‘constitutional breakdown’ in State
 

“It is Article 356 that deals with failure of constitutional machinery in a State... This is a power [to impose President’s rule] exclusively vests in the Executive. The power in this regard, like sending a report either to the Hon’ble President or to the Hon’ble Governor or to record a finding in that regard, cannot be exercised by the judiciary,” the petition filed by the government said.

The “unprecedented” order of the High Court, on October 1, came while deciding habeas corpus petitions filed by relatives of persons remanded in judicial custody or on bail.

The High Court had suo motu summoned the State counsel to assist it in deciding “whether in circumstances prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh, the court can record a finding that there is constitutional breakdown in the State or not”.

‘HC did not take up application’

The State said an application to recall the October 1 order was not taken up by the High Court, compelling the government to move the apex court.

The government said the High Court’s observation violated the Basic Structure doctrine of the Constitution.

“Under the constitutional framework, it is not for the courts to decide as to whether there is a constitutional breakdown in a State. The said power has been specifically conferred upon a different constitutional authority – and rightly so. It is needless to mention that the constitutional courts do not have any judicially discoverable and manageable standards to determine if there has been a constitutional breakdown,” the petition contended.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 1:29:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-stays-andhra-hc-order-to-study-constitutional-breakdown-in-state/article33364452.ece

Next Story