AP High Court Verdict on Amaravati

  • IASbaba
  • March 5, 2022
  • 0
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  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

AP High Court Verdict on Amaravati

Context: In a significant development, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has directed the State government to construct and develop Amaravati capital city and capital region within six months as agreed in the terms and conditions under the provisions of APCRDA Act of 2014.

Brief background of the case

  • In 2014, the Amaravati region was chosen as the site of the capital of Andhra Pradesh, the residuary State left after the creation of Telangana.
  • However, with the change of regime in 2019, the work was stopped where the new government proposed decentralised development by having three capitals.
  • AP legislature passed AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act 2020 and Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development (Repeal) Act 2020 which proposed to establish three capitals in the state – Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool as the legislative, executive, and judicial capitals respectively. 
  • Essentially, around 33,000 families of Amravati had given up their land in 2014-15 for capital region development program. 
  • However, with the legislation for the construction of three capital cities in 2020, the families were left with no sustainable means of livelihood. Therefore, they challenged these new legislation (proposal of three capitals) in AP High Court.
  • Petitioners argued that the abrupt halting of development in the capital region (Amrawati) had led to the crashing of the value of plots and this could mean that these families would incur a loss of over Rs 30,000 crore if the value of returnable plots is estimated at the lowest prices.
  • But in November 2021, the State had repealed/withdrew these laws.

Key Features of the High Court Verdict

  • State’s High Court has ruled that it cannot abandon the project to develop Amaravati as the capital city after over 33,000 acres had been given up by farmers and ₹15,000 crore sunk in it over development expenditure. 
  • The Court has held that the action of the state to come up with a proposal for three capitals was arbitrary and violative of Articles 21 and 300-A of the Constitution of India.
  • State Legislature lacks competence to make any legislation for shifting, bifurcating or trifurcating the capital and Heads of Departments of the three wings of the Government including the High Court 
  • The High Court has also categorically held that the state had failed to keep up their promise to the petitioners who had surrendered their lands expecting developed, reconstituted plots as the State failed to complete the process of construction of Amrawati City by 2018.
  • The State is directed to construct and develop Amaravati capital city and capital region within six months time.

Implications of the verdict

  • The verdict, if undisturbed by the Supreme Court, may put an end to attempts to shift the capital city out of Amaravati. 
  • A welcome feature of the verdict is that it has invoked the doctrines of constitutional trust and promissory estoppel to prevent a regime from going back on its promises to citizens. 
    • Promissory estoppel is a doctrine in contract law that stops a person from going back on a promise even if a legal contract does not exist.
  • It sends out a message that governance should not be buffeted by winds of political change or be held hostage to the passing whimsy of a particular regime.

Connecting the dots:

  • Reorganisation of States
  • Separation of Power

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