AP govt hires Mukul Rohtagi to defend three-capital move


Amaravati, Jan 22 (IANS): With its move to develop three state capitals challenged in the Andhra Pradesh High Court by Amaravati farmers, the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led state government has hired senior lawyer and former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to argue its case.

The planning department of the state government has earmarked Rs 5 crore for hiring his services and has issued orders for immediate release of Rs 1 crore towards advance.

Rohatgi will defend the state government in all the cases relating to Amaravati. Various groups and individuals have filed petitions against the government for imposing prohibitory orders in Amaravati villages under Section 144, implementation of Police Act 30 and the manhandling of protesters including women by the police.

Two more Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed in the High Court on Wednesday, challenging the two Bills passed by the Assembly on Monday to pave the way for developing three capitals - Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool.

The government has declared that executive capital will come up in Visakhapatnam and judicial capital in Kurnool while Amaravati will serve as the legislative capital.

A group of 37 farmers filed a petition challenging the move. Rajadhani Rytu Parirakshana Samithi has also filed a PIL.

The petitioners' lawyer Ambati Sudhakar informed the court that the government was making arrangements for shifting of the capital. However, state Advocate General submitted that the Bills were still being discussed in the Legislative Council.

The petitioners argued that setting up of High Court comes under the Union list and hence the state government has no right to shift the High Court.

The court adjourned the hearing on the PILs challenging the constitutional validity of the Bills for Thursday.

During the course of arguments, Chief Justice J.K. Maheswari indicated that a special bench may be constituted to hear all the cases related to Amaravati.

Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill and Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill were passed by the Assembly on Monday.

The farmers in 29 villages of Amaravati have been protesting for more than a month against the government's move to shift key capital functions out of Amaravati.

The farmers had given 33,000 acres of land for the capital in 2015 and they fear that shifting of the capital will badly hit their interests.

  

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