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Andhra Pradesh High Court Refuses to Recall Order for Examining 'Constitutional Breakdown' of State Machinery; Govt to Move Supreme Court

Andhra Pradesh High Court Refuses to Recall Order for Examining 'Constitutional Breakdown' of State Machinery; Govt to Move Supreme Court
The Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh, Subrahmanyam Sriram, said on Monday that the State will move the Supreme Court against the October 1 order of the High Court seeking to examine whether there is a constitutional breakdown of machinery in the State. 

The AG had raised objection regarding the jurisdiction of the Court to deal with the question of constitutional breakdown and urged the bench to treat it as a preliminary issue. On October 1, 2020,the bench, also including Justice Uma Devi, had converted the hearing on a batch of habeas corpus petitions and petitions alleging police excesses as a hearing on the issue whether there is a constitutional breakdown in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh High Court To Examine if There is Constitutional Breakdown in the State of AP:

It had directed the government counsel to make submissions on whether the court can record a finding that there is Constitutional breakdown in the light of the circumstances which are prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Responding to this, the State had filed an application for recall, while highlighting that in the absence of any pleadings in the writ petition, the court may not examine the issue regarding failure of constitutional breakdown in the state.The Court had summoned the DGP who gave assurance that instructions will be given to the Police personnel to follow all the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in DK Basu case and other amendments that followed the pronouncement. 

This court had asked that State counsel may come prepared on the point as too whether in the circumstances which are prevailing, court can record a finding whether there is Constitutional breakdown. 

At this juncture, Government Pleader, Senior Advocate SS Prasad pointed out that it was wrong to say that he dragged the matter for several days as on each of the hearing, the Court had recorded that proceedings were subject to hearing on the question of constitutional breakdown.

Govt. contests court's power to suo moto examine constitutional breakdown:

Govt. Pleader SS Prasad submitted that the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider the suo moto question regarding constitutional breakdown of the State machinery. 

He submitted that the term 'constitutional breakdown of State machinery' used in Article 356 is not defined and as per previous judgments, the same occurs when there is political turmoil, judicial anarchy or legislative failure in the State. Prasad also submitted that the present petition does not raise any question regarding breakdown of state machinery and the Court should refrain from expanding the scope of hearings. The Bench has decided to continue hearing of the matter on Wednesday, December 16.

Petitioner's Submissions on Merits:

The Petitioner in the case at hand is an ex-MLA of the Telugu Desam party. He had submitted that the State was curbing democratic form of dissent and not providing adequate security to the agitation programs that are being conducted by political parties. Reliance was placed on the Supreme Court's verdict in Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan v. She submitted that the police are registering cases under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, against the persons belonging to those communities itself.

It may be noted that the State Government had challenged the locus standi of the Petitioner, a political figure, to maintain a PIL. Disputing this, the Petitioner submitted that merely because he has contested from a particular party does not make him a party not interested in the welfare of the public. Reliance was placed on Chairman, Railway Board & Ors v. At this juncture, the State counsel submitted that as per settled law, PIL can be filed by persons who are suffering from poverty, scarcity of funds, or who are precluded them from approaching the Court due to other disability.

Once the Petitioner submits that he is from a political party, it can't be a PIL. Reliance was placed on State Of Uttaranchal v.

Admissibility of Additional Affidavit filed by Petitioner:

The State had submitted that a 700-pages long additional affidavit filed by the Petitioner was prompted by what the Court observed in its order dated October 1, 2020. In case the court decides to rely on the affidavit, he submitted, the Petitioner should explain the context and relevancy of the contents and judgments relied therein with respect to reliefs sought in writ petition and the State should be allowed to file its reply thereon. Justice Rakesh Kumar was transferred from Patna High Court to Andhra Pradesh High Court last year. Shortly before his transfer to AP High Court, Justice Rakesh Kumar had created a furore in the Patna High Court by passing a direction for CBI investigation into alleged corruption in the subordinate judiciary.

In that order, Justice Rakesh Kumar had made startling observations such as corruption in this High Court is an open secret and that judges were more interested in enjoying privileges than administering justice. Soon after that order, a 11-judge bench assembled to suspend it after observing that Justice Kumar's observations as judicial and administrative overreach.


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