Jagan’s 3-capital plan for Andhra gets Centre’s clear backing in high court

There is no stipulation in the law that requires Andhra Pradesh to have only one capital, the Centre told the Andhra Pradesh high court on Thursday in an affidavit that backs the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s three-capital plan.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s plan has been opposed by his predecessor Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party who had named Amaravati as the state capital after Hyderabad went to Telangana. A bunch of petitions were also filed in the high court against the move.

In an affidavit filed by the Union home ministry, the Centre denied claims that a three-capital plan was a violation of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014 that carved out a separate state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh.

Lalita T Hedaoo, an under secretary in the Union ministry of home affairs, refuted the argument by one of the petitioners that Andhra could not have three capitals because the AP Reorganisation Act 2014 mentioned “a capital for the state of Andhra Pradesh” and not “capitals”.

She pointed to Section 13 of The General Clauses Act, 1897 that makes it clear that in all Central Acts and regulations, words in the singular shall include the plural and vice versa unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context.

“It is clearly mentioned in the Act that words importing the masculine gender shall be taken to include females; and words in the singular shall include the plural, and vice versa. Thus, the interpretation of the petitioner on the issue is shallow,” Hedaoo told the high court in the affidavit.

Jagan Mohan Reddy’s three-capital plan envisages executive capital in Visakhapatnam, legislative in Amaravati and judicial in Kurnool. In an interview to HT this week, the chief minister said he was essentially distributing the functions to different places rather than concentrating them in one place. “If you lay all your eggs in one basket you are going to suffer,” he said.

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On the argument that the Centre only gave grants for the development of capital city at Amaravati, the official said the Centre had extended financial assistance to AP for creation of essential facilities in their new capital such as Secretariat, Raj Bhavan, High Court etc. and to further facilitate denotification of degraded forest land, if necessary, for the same.

“This provision is only for extending financial assistance to the capital city, but not to decide its location,” she clarified.

Hedaoo also said under Article 3 of the Constitution of India, there is provision only for creation of new States and other related matters. No provision in respect of capital is laid down in this article.

The MHA official refuted the argument that the Centre had endorsed Amaravati as the capital city while locating the state high court as per the Presidential order. She made it clear that there is no provision in the Act to say that the principal seat of high court should also be in the capital city.

“Notification of President’s Order regarding constitution of a separate High Court for Andhra Pradesh with principal seat at Amaravati by the Centre cannot be construed as the Central Government’s decision to declare Amaravati as Capital of Andhra Pradesh, as the Principal Seat of High Court need not necessarily be in the capital city of the state,” she asserted.

In an earlier affidavit, too, the MHA official made it clear that the Centre had no role whatsoever in the location or relocation of the state capital. “It is completely the state government’s prerogative to decide where the capital city of the state should be located,” she said.

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