The Supreme Court has postponed until July 11 the plea by the Andhra Pradesh government, which challenges the high court order directing it to develop and build Amaravati as the capital city and region. The move comes as a setback for CM Jagan Reddy’s government, which was hoping for a decision in its favour.
Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna noted that many senior advocates are expected to argue the case and this will require time to advance their arguments. The apex court had earlier stayed the high court order from March 3, 2022, directing the construction of Amaravati within six months, reported news agency ANI. However, the Andhra Pradesh government approached the Supreme Court, challenging the HC decision, stating that the previous legislation had been withdrawn, making the issue infructuous.
The appeal also stated that under the federal structure of the Constitution, every state has an inherent right to determine where it should carry out its capital functions from. “To hold that state does not have the power to decide on its capital is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution,” the government’s appeal read.
Earlier, the HC held that the state government and the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority violated the fundamental rights of the petitioners (farmers who parted with their lands). The court was hearing a batch of 63 petitions filed by aggrieved farmers of Amaravati, who sought to contest the Jagan Reddy regime’s decision to make Visakhapatnam the executive capital, Kurnool the judicial capital and Amaravati the legislative capital of Andhra Pradesh.
The court directed the state to develop the Amaravati Capital City and Capital Region and finish the work within six months.
The high court’s verdict had come on a batch of 63 petitions filed by aggrieved farmers of the Amaravati region against the Jagan Reddy regime’s decision to make Visakhapatnam the executive capital, Kurnool the judicial capital and confining Amaravati to being the legislative capital of Andhra Pradesh.
The Supreme Court’s decision not to stay the High Court order is a setback for the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government in Andhra Pradesh. The government had announced its intention to shift to Visakhapatnam and work from there from July. The issue is expected to come up before a new bench in July as Justice Joseph will retire on June 16.
After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were supposed to share Hyderabad as their capital for ten years. However, the then-Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, announced that he would build a world-class greenfield capital at Amaravati.
Despite funds proving to be a significant challenge, thousands of acres of land were acquired, and big plans were drawn up for the new capital, reported NDTV. However, when Reddy became Chief Minister in May 2019, his government alleged a massive real estate scam in land acquisition and the plans for the new capital at Amaravati and scrapped the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority.