With the YSRCP government in Andhra Pradesh dropping clear hints that it had no grand plans for the capital of Amaravati and was even open to the decentralisation of institutions, the demand for a High Court to be established at Kurnool has resurfaced.
Speaking to reporters in Kurnool on Tuesday, Jayaraju Yeggoni from the SC/ST Lawyers Forum for Social Justice, who is also the former head of the district bar association, said that if not a new High Court, at least a bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court be set up in the state's Rayalaseema region.
The Rayalaseema region in Andhra Pradesh consists of the districts of Kadapa, Kurnool, Anantapur and Chittoor. Locals here have often alleged neglect, as the region is underdeveloped, as compared to other parts of the state.
In a letter to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the lawyers said, "All of us know well that concentration of development in one place leads to imbalanced development of other regions in a state. We saw what happened when Andhra was a combined state â€“ Hyderabad was developed and now after the division, we are left with nothing."
Arguing for equitable distribution of resources and investment to all parts of the state, the lawyers accused former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of repeating the same mistake after 2014, by concentrating development along the banks of the river Krishna.
The letter also cited the Sribagh Pact and the Gentlemen's Agreement, which was signed by leaders of Telugu-speaking regions like Telangana, coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema in the 1950s. At the time, Kurnool was selected as the capital of the combined state, which had been reorganised from the Madras Province, while the High Court functioned from Guntur. However, the capital and the high court later shifted to Hyderabad.
"The establishment of a high court at one place and the location of capital at another place is not new or first of its kind. The establishment of a high court in Rayalaseema region at Kurnool is not only a historic necessity to honour the Gentlemen's Agreement, but also a pragmatic step for the equitable development of both regions," the letter states.
Pointing out that there was abundant government land, availability of water and connectivity with others states from Kurnool, the letter also stated that Anantapur district had gotten a Kia Motors plant, while Kadapa was in the process of getting a steel plant, leaving Kurnool in the lurch.
The demand to set up the high court in Kurnool is far from new and agitation has been underway for the past three years. In 2018, the Presidents and Secretaries of Bar Associations of the Rayalaseema region met in Kadapa and passed a resolution to constitute the â€˜Rayalaseema High Court Sadhana Samithiâ€™.
The organisation led various protests, agitations and boycotts, demanding that the high court be set up in Rayalaseema. The protesting lawyers also met with the then Andhra Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and submitted a representation.
However, the Naidu government was firm on its decision to construct the high court at Amaravati, even as some leaders of the YSRCP had then supported the lawyers' demand.
With the YSRCP storming into power in the state, the lawyers now hope that their long-pending demand will be fulfilled.