At a press conference on 27th June, 2015 at New Delhi, Mr. K. Tarakarama Rao, Telangana’s IT minister asserted that Section-8 of A.P. Reorganization Act (APRA) 2014 is unconstitutional as the Constitution does not permit that law and order, a state subject, be exercised by the Governor. For good measure, he recalled the then opposition leader, Mr. Arun Jaitley, having expressed in Rajya Sabha the possible requirement of a Constitutional amendment to vest the governor with such powers.
But the suave IT minister stops his analysis there. He does not go into the question of whether a state government can subject another state government to its law and order machinery. After all, in a federal set up, all the state governments are equal and you cannot place one above the other! What TRS seeking is exactly that: exercising control, be it potential, over the Andhra Pradesh government when it comes to law and order issues. At least, it will be seen as such in the context of a joint capital. That is, handing over law and order in Hyderabad to Telangana government amounts to legislating against federalism! If in Delhi, the Central government is vested with law and order, and Delhi state remains a ‘limited state’, the reasons are similar.
Thoughts on Section-8
That following Attorney-General, Mr. Rohatgi’s advisory to the state Governor, Mr. Narasimhan, on how to deal with Section-8, the Telangana Chief Minister, Mr. K. Chandra Sekhara Rao, threatened to go on a fast at New Delhi, does not speak highly of this founding leader of Telangana state in so far as his law-abiding credentials are concerned. If he feels that Section-8 is an insult to the self-respect of Telangana people, he is not without democratic means to ventilate his grievance:
i) He could have refused to accept a Telangana with the Section-8 rider and continued his agitation to achieve a full-fledged state just as Mahatma Gandhi wanted to continue the Independence movement rather than accept that the country be divided;
ii) If the A.P. Reorganization 2014 bill is nevertheless passed, he could have approached Supreme Court for convening a Constitutional Bench to resolve this issue;
iii) He could have mobilized legislative support from all the states and political parties and asked for an amendment motion in the parliament. Instead, threatening to go on fast amounts to blackmailing in a bid to bend Constitution to his favor. Further, he should know that Sonia Gandhi had a vested interest in dividing the state as she wanted to minimize political clout of Telugus in the National affairs.
And this is the reason why his hunger strike in December 2009 produced the Chidambaram announcement dangling a realistic hope of creating separate Telangana and thereby virtually re-launching the moribund movement. But things have vastly changed since then for KCR to conjure up the same or similar effect by his fasts.
What Could be Done?
An informal way of bestowing legitimacy to Section-8 is to see Telangana and residual Andhra Pradesh, not as full-fledged states, but as states in formation whose umbilical cord to the erstwhile undivided Andhra Pradesh being still maintained. This would remain so, as envisaged in the APRA for 10 years, that is, till June 01, 2024, or earlier, if Andhra Pradesh effects a complete shift before that date. This way of looking at things would maintain the Constitutional sanctity as well as mutual trust and respect between the two new states.
Perhaps, Sonia Gandhi expected this kind of accommodation on the part of Telangana state given the euphoria of the moment generated by Telangana achieving its 60-year dream through her instrumentality besides securely placing Hyderabad in Telangana’s kitty (Ruling out UT status as well as bequeathing total revenue – amounting to 62% of the total revenue of the undivided state – from the Capital city to Telangana alone…) It should also be noted that the law and order issues concerning Andhra Pradesh government and allied issues would follow the downhill, in number as well as gravity, as that government goes through the process of shifting its ministries, departments and personnel in the ensuing years to its new Capital so much so the Governor will have less and less occasions to intervene. So the Telangana government would do well to see this as an interim measure required to uphold the self-respect of Andhra Pradesh by upholding federalism.
The other argument that is advanced is that since no law and order problem occurred in the past 12 months in Hyderabad, there is no need for the Section-8. This is a short sighted argument for Section-8 is envisaged for 10 years. That today there is no problem does not mean that tomorrow there would not be any either! This apart, the perpetrated harassment and injustices need not always take an overt law and order turn.
And the Governor is supposed to look into such issues as well. And with the distrust and antipathy of Andhras being one of the ideological elements of TRS, things cannot be otherwise and even if they are, apprehensions cannot so easily be removed. The happenings over the past one year show that the TRS government manifestly lacks the finesse and patience to gradually relieve Andhras of their dependence on the past policy frameworks. That seems to be the crux of the problem. It should be understood that there is no way to ensure both Constitutional conformity as well as Federal respect, in the absence of a Capital for Andhra Pradesh, other than making Hyderabad a Union Territory, be it temporarily, so that both the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are accorded equal statutory respect. The then UPA government as well as the principle opposition, both of whom favored Telangana over the residuary Andhra Pradesh, also preferred an accommodating approach rather than getting bogged down in Constitutional niceties. TRS should understand this for its own good.
By Dr. Codadu Pratap