Andhra Pradesh High Court. Image Source: IANS News

Amaravati, Aug 14 : The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday extended, till August 27, the status quo on three capital issue.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices Rakesh Kumar, A.V. Sesha Sai and M. Satyanarayana Murthy directed the state government to maintain the status quo for two more weeks, rejecting its appeal to vacate the interim order passed on August 4.

The court on Friday took up hearing of nearly 55 petitions filed to challenge the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Repeat Act, 2020.

Counsel for the petitioners argued that the three capital move was violation of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 as it talks of only one state capital.

Lawyers of some of the petitioners expressed their inability to personally appear before the court due to current Covid-19 situation and pleaded for extending the status quo.

The government had on Thursday filed a common counter-affidavit claiming that the related policy decision was within its competence and in consonance with the Central government's sworn statement on the matter.

The government contended that its decision was not arbitrary, but was taken on the basis of various studies conducted by experts, and that it had the obligation under Article 38 of the Constitution to ensure that there were no inequalities among the people in different areas.

The court had ordered the status quo on August 4 as the petitioners feared that the government might start shifting offices to Visakhapatnam and Kurnool by taking advantage of the Bills getting the Governor's assent.

Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan on July 31 approved the two Bills and the same day, the government issued the gazette notification.

Under Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill 2020, the government seeks to shift key capital functions out of Amaravati.

It proposes to develop Visakhapatnam as the executive capital. With the shifting of the offices of the Chief Minister, the Governor, ministers and secretaries, the coastal city for all practical purposes will become the seat of power.

Kurnool will be developed as the judicial capital by shifting the High Court there.

Amaravati, which was originally planned as the only state capital and a world-class city, will only be a legislative capital.

The moved by Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government has led to fresh protests by farmers in 29 villages in Amaravati.

About 24,000 farmer families had given 33,000 acres of land for development of Amaravati under land pooling scheme five years ago.

Then Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government headed by Chandrababu Naidu had embarked on the mega plans to build Amaravati on the banks of Krishna river as the dream capital and a world-class city. Naidu had got its design was prepared by Singapore government.

Several farmers had already challenged the three capitals move. They also filed petitions challenging the two Bills approved by the Governor.

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