Days after the Andhra Pradesh government issued a directive to relocate some of its offices in Amaravati to Kurnool city, the High Court on Tuesday pulled up the government for defying its order. The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a farmer Kondepati Giridhar from Guntur district and Tirupati Rao, secretary of the 'Amaravati Parirakshana Samiti' earlier this week soon after the GO was issued.
A division bench, led by Chief Justice GK Maheswari and Justice N Jayasurya, sought to know the government could shift offices when petitions opposing the shifting of the capital from Amaravati are pending before it. The capital decentralisation bill is also pending in the upper house of Legislature, it added.
Observing the objections by the petitioners, the High Court gave interim orders to maintain status quo in the matter until the next hearing of the set of petitions that were filed against de-centralisation of Andhra Pradesh capital.
Advocate General S Sriram, arguing on behalf of the state, said that shifting the offices is a policy decision as "there is no enough space for these offices". He also informed that the government will file a counter-affidavit explaining the rationale behind the Government Order and urged the court not to issue interim orders to maintain the status quo.
However, HC stated that it would maintain the status quo for two weeks, by during which pending petitions would come before the court.
Karumanchi Indraneel Babu, counsel for the petitioners, alleged that the governmentâ€™s decision to shift the offices of Vigilance Commission and Commissioner of Enquiries to Kurnool is illegal and arbitrary.
It was last week that the state government decided to shift some offices from the Government Complex at the Secretariat in Amaravati to Kurnool, â€˜on administrative groundsâ€™.
Orders issued by the General Administration Department (GAD) stated that the Office of Vigilance Commissioner and Chairman of Commissionerate of Inquiries, along with Offices of the Member(s) of Commissioner of Inquiries, should be shifted.
The Engineer-in-Chief (Roads and Buildings), the Collector and District Magistrate, Kurnool were tasked with identifying buildings in Kurnool for the relocation. The order did not, however, mention a specific date or deadline to shift the offices.
The state government decided to go ahead with its plans even as the High Court warned it against doing so. The court had said that if any shifting were to occur, the officials would then have to shift back to Amaravati at their own expense.
Last month, the state government had passed two Bills in the Assembly â€” the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill and Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill.
This was part of the YSRCP governmentâ€™s plans to develop three capitals for Andhra Pradesh â€” a legislative capital in Amaravati, an executive capital in Visakhapatnam and a judicial capital in Kurnool. The move was challenged in court.