The Andhra Pradesh government’s plans for trifurcation of the state capital may have to wait as the high court on Thursday extended the status quo till September 21.
While extending the status quo, a three-judge bench of the high court agreed to hear the case on a day-to-day basis from September 21.
As previous orders for the status quo expired on Thursday, the court resumed hearing of the petitions challenging the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Acts, 2020 and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Repeat Act, 2020.
The bench gave the government time till September 11 to file its counter affidavit. The petitioners may submit their objections by September 17.
The court first ordered status quo on August 4 and at the next hearing on August 14 extended it by two weeks.
Farmers, people’s representatives and various groups have filed over 70 petitions challenging the two Acts. They argued that the three capital move was in violation of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 which mentions only one state capital.
Meanwhile, one of the petitioners filed a contempt of court petition against the state government. He argued that the construction of a guest house in Visakhapatnam by the government was in violation of the status quo ordered by the court. The court asked the government to file a counter reply by September 10.
In a setback to the Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s plan, the Supreme Court had on Wednesday refused to grant a stay on the high court order for status quo.
A division bench of the Supreme Court had set aside the special leave petition filed by the state government, challenging the high court order.
The bench said it cannot interfere in the matter, as it is already pending in the high court and is coming up for hearing on Thursday.
The Supreme Court also rejected the plea of the state government to direct the high court to expedite the hearing, saying it cannot fix a deadline for the high court.
The high court had ordered the status quo as the petitioners feared that the government might start shifting offices to Visakhapatnam and Kurnool by taking advantage of the Bills being passed for the same.
Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan on July 31 approved the two Bills and the government issued the gazette notification on the same day.
Under the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill 2020, the government seeks to shift key capital functions out of Amaravati.
It proposes to develop Visakhapatnam as the executive capital. With the shifting of the offices of the Chief Minister, Governor, Ministers and Secretaries, the coastal city for all practical purposes will become the seat of power.
Kurnool will be developed as the judicial capital by shifting the high court there.
Amaravati, which was originally planned as the only state capital and a world-class city, will only be a legislative capital.
The move has led to fresh protests by farmers in 29 villages in Amaravati.
About 24,000 farmer families had given 33,000 acres of land for development of Amaravati under the land pooling scheme five years ago.
The then Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government headed by Chandrababu Naidu had embarked on mega plans to build Amaravati on the banks of the Krishna river as the dream capital and a world-class city.