OPINION: The Division of the High Court of Hyderabad between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
On 22nd December, 1953, the then Prime Minister of the nation made a statement in Parliament to the effect that a Commission would be appointed to – address “objectively and dispassionately” the question of the organisation of the States of the Indian Union so that the welfare of the people of each constituent unit as well as the nation as a whole is promoted. Subsequent to this statement, the State Reorganisation Commission was established in 1953 to achieve the aforementioned aims and objectives. Subsequent to the report of the J V P Committee, the then Prime Minister stated that a Telugu speaking state may be formed as per the strict guidelines enunciated by the J V P Committee. Potti Sree Ramulu was the person who fasted unto death in order to achieve the collective goal of a separate Andhra Pradesh which was then merged with Madras. The Government of India, subsequent to the death of Potti Sree Ramulu announced the formation of a Telugu speaking state i.e., Andhra Pradesh and Shri Justice Wanchoo was appointed to look into the financial and other implications in the matter.
On 10th August, 1953, a Bill was introduced in the House of the People now known as Lok Sabha “to provide for the formation of the Andhra State”. The State of Andhra, which, according to the statement made by the then Deputy Home Minister in Parliament on 17th August, 1953, was a province formed on a linguistic basis which came into existence on 1st October, 1953.
The report of the State Reorganisation Commission stated that it is important to bear in mind that the three areas known as Telangana, Karnataka and Marathwada were substantially united only under the authority of the Asaf Jahi dynasty. The unity was not based on a free association of the people, but rested on the weak foundation of personal rule. The Congress Party was divided on the question whether Telangana should be a separate State or be united with Andhra. However, there was a unanimous decision among everyone on the point of formation of a separate state for Telugu speaking people. Therefore, it can be seen that the agitations for a separate state for the Telangana region was existed since 1953.
The report kept in view the various economic affiliations the region of Telangana had with the existing Andhra State. It further emphasized on the point that Telangana has over the years faced scarcity in a sizeable deficit in food supplies. The existing Andhra State, however, has normally a surplus which the region of Telangana will also be able to utilise. The existing State of Andhra has likewise no coal, but will be able to get its supplies from Singareni. Therefore, Telangana will also be able to save a great deal of expenditure on general administration, in case it is not established as a separate unit. These were the important views in the report which was not considered at the time of formation of the new state of Telangana.
The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and for the State of Andhra Pradesh was erstwhile known as the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. The struggle for a separate Telangana state was vigorously fought for many years starting from the date the State of Andhra Pradesh was formed. Ironically, in spite of the Congress party being in power at the Centre, they delayed formation of a separate state for a long period which resulted in Congress losing the next elections held in the newly formed state.
The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and for the State of Andhra Pradesh now is being divided for both the states with separate infrastructure situated in both the states respectively. The High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and for the State of Andhra Pradesh has formed a committee for the purpose of selecting a building for housing the High Court. The proposed building given by the Andhra Pradesh Government has been rejected by the Committee as it was found to be inadequate. In case, the said proposal would have been approved, the new High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh would have commenced with effect from June, however, now there seems to be a delay for the same due to infrastructural issues.
The current working strength of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and for the State of Andhra Pradesh is approximately 31 and it is rumoured that out of the said strength at least 20 judges will be opting for the High Court at Andhra Pradesh thereby leaving only 11 judges in Telangana. In case the Central Government continues its delay in appointing judges to the High Courts, then the High Court of Telangana will be heavily over burdened with immense pendency of work due to insufficient number of judges.
The latest development in the formation of the new High Court in Andhra Pradesh seems to be the location for the same. A new twist in the turn of events has risen now. Advocates of the Rayalaseema region have been on strike for over a month seeking that the High Court to be established in Andhra Pradesh be established in Rayalaseema rather than in the proposed capital city i.e., Amaravati. Even a PIL has been filed for the purpose of having a High Court in Kurnool that falls in the region of Rayalaseema. The said strike is going to be a bone of contention in the forthcoming elections to be held in 2019. These strikes will only lead to a further delay in the formation of the High Court. Previously, the advocates in Telangana went for a strike for sending the judges who belonged to Andhra Pradesh back to Andhra Pradesh and the said strike was called off after an assurance given by the Prime Minister as well as by the then Chief Justice of India.
In conclusion, I opine that the division was all a result of lack of development in the rural areas. In the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh only Hyderabad was in the core focus of development, which resulted in the demand for the separate state of Telangana in order to bring the other regions on par with Hyderabad. Subsequent to the division we see that the people in Rayalaseema have felt left out thereby resulting in the said agitations. Therefore, the saga of agitations and strikes still wreck the peace of Telangana as well as Andhra Pradesh.
Manav Gecil Thomas is an advocate practising at the High Court of Hyderabad. Views expressed are personal of the author. The Indian Jurist does not take responsibility for the views expressed or facts stated.