Division of States has set procedures and precedents

By Gautam Pingle

Published: 17th October 2013 09:42 AM

Last Updated: 17th October 2013 09:42 AM

Many doubts, concerns, fears and hopes over demerger of Telangana have been propagated by “responsible” persons and carried by mass media. The terms of reference of the GoM on Telangana has also caused some confusion. Aditya Krishna Chintapanti, a young and talented lawyer, has analysed several Reorganization Acts–Bombay (1960), Punjab (1966), Madhya Pradesh (2000) and Bihar (2000). The procedures have thus been established over a 40-year period. For Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, what are the issues and solutions as per past practice?

First, Article 3 of the Constitution confers extraordinary power on Parliament to merge or separate states at will. Article 3 also allows Parliament to amend Constitutional provisions and Amendments by simple majority. These are sovereign powers and are confirmed by the Supreme Court.

Article 3 makes it clear that the Bill for separation has to be sent to the Assembly for its views alone. Only in the case of Jammu and Kashmir is the specific consent of its Legislature required; in all other States no consent is required. In the event of President’s Rule, the President can suspend the Assembly, and Parliament assumes all the powers of the State, and the Assembly’s views and, even in the case of J&K, its consent, is not necessary.

Prior resolution by the Assembly is also not required. The NDA government managed to get it before the bill (not after) for Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand as Digvijay Singh’s Congress government ruled Madhya Pradesh and Rabri Devi’s RJD Government in Bihar. Uttaranchal was not an issue as Uttar Pradesh was under BJP rule. These were the only cases.

Second, separate Assemblies are reconvened after the Bill is passed and all MLAs will retain their tenure. The Legislative Council will continue only for the residuary State with MLCs elected only from its region.

Third, the Reorganisation Acts created new High Courts as only Parliament can do so. In the current state of affairs, with lawyers violently divided on regional lines, a common High Court will be impossible. The Bill will have to create a Telangana High Court at Hyderabad and specify the location of the High Court of the residuary Andhra Pradesh.

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