Split Andhra Pradesh,and its special status goes: AG to government

Attorney General G E Vahanvati says constitutional amendment needed to maintain Article 371-D.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Published: November 19, 2013 4:43 am

Attorney General G E Vahanvati is learnt to have told the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Telangana that once a new state is carved out of Andhra Pradesh,the special status enjoyed by united Andhra Pradesh under Article 371-D of the constitution would not be applicable to the remaining part of the state.

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In other words,AG Vahanvati has told the GoM that for Telangana to be created,Parliament would have to pass a constitutional amendment,and that the two new states would lose the special status provided under this article.

Under Article 4,any law that provides for bifurcation of a state is not deemed to be an amendment to the constitution even if it amends certain provisions of the constitution. However,in the case of Andhra Pradesh,due to Article 371-D,the situation is different.

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Sources told The Indian Express that the GoM,mindful of the problems the government could run in to if the AG’s opinion were to be accepted in toto,is likely to seek some clarifications — or even a fresh,more detailed opinion from the top law officer.

Split Andhra,and its special status goes: AG to govt

Article 371-D,which was inserted through the 32nd Amendment in 1973,empowers the President to issue orders from time to time providing for equitable opportunities for people belonging to different parts of the state. This provision,which has overriding effect on other articles of the constitution,was brought in following agreement on a six-point formula between leaders of the state on September 21,1973. This formula was aimed at a uniform approach for “accelerated development of the backward areas” of Andhra Pradesh,and to provide “equitable opportunities” to different areas of the state in the matter of education and employment in public services.

One effect of this provision was the division of Andhra Pradesh into six administrative zones for purposes of reserving jobs to boost local employment.

Sources in the GoM said that Vahanvati has said in his opinion that since Article 371-D was enacted for the purpose of equal opportunities for the entire state,if the state is bifurcated,“it would not be proper to apply Article 371-D to the remaining part of state of AP”.

This,the AG has opined,would be contrary to the very purpose and intent of the provision.

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