Judges' stir worsens woes of sibling states

Judges' stir worsens woes of sibling states

After more than two years of bifurcation, the sibling states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are still grappling with the issue of division of the common high court. This time, the bone of contention is the allotment of non-local judicial officers from Andhra origin to courts in Telangana.

As per the provisional list issued by the common HC on May 3, a total of 205 judicial
officers were allotted to both Telangana and AP. However, out of the 95 officers allocated to Telangana, 58 officers hail from AP. It was argued that the tentative allocation of subordinate judicial officers will affect the future prospects of judicial officers in terms of promotion and subsequent placement in the HC.

After the division of state in June 2014, the HC of Andhra Pradesh was rechristened as the High Court of Judicature (HCJ) at Hyderabad serving the needs of both the states. The AP Reorganisation Act has promised a separate HC for Andhra Pradesh at a place of choice of the residual state. It was envisaged that the HCJ at Hyderabad shall remain the High Court for Telangana after AP constructs its own high court.

However, the Telangana advocates wanted speedy division of the common high court alleging intervention of AP judicial officers in the affairs of the state. “We cannot work under the Andhra judicial rulers. We are afraid of their intervention in the political and executive administration of Telangana,” says K Ravinder Reddy, president of the Telangana Judges’ Association.

A slew of favourable judgments towards AP and harshly worded observations by the judiciary on decisions taken by the state of Telangana have further strengthened their belief that AP is trying to meddle with the sister state through its clout in  the judiciary.
President of the Bar Association of Ranga Reddy District Courts K Raj Reddy claims that Telangana had only 15% representation in the judicial and non-judicial posts in the HC.
“The direct recruit officers from AP were intentionally appointed to Telangana to deprive the promotional prospects of the Telangana judges. We have no intention to approach the HC for redressal as the majority in the HC has a bias,” he said.

The agitation by several outfits demanding establishment of a separate HC continued in all 10 district courts of Telangana throughout 2015. The Telangana government even offered to accommodate the AP High Court at the sprawling IIIT building in Gachibowli.
However, Union Law Minister Sadananda Gowda has time and again pacified Telangana’s TRS government that the decision of division is in the hands of Chief Justice of India and there is nothing that the government can do to address the problem.

Political confrontation
The AP government has said that it would need time to complete the construction of a new HC in the yet to be built Amaravati. “The heads of the departments stationed at the common capital of Hyderabad would require to attend the HC in connection with litigations involving the government, so it is logical to have the state secretariat and High court at one place,” State IT Minister Palle Raghunatha Reddy explained.

Now, the ongoing stir by subordinate judges and judicial officers of Telangana over the nativity issue has snowballed into a full blown political confrontation. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has decided to stage a dharna in New Delhi to protest against the Centre’s “deliberate neglect” of the legitimate demands of the Telangana.

“The CM is pained over the developments and has decided to join his party MPs and MLAs in staging a dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi,” a release from his office said.
Rao also shot a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh pointing out that the AP Reorganisation Act made it amply clear that all judicial officers will have to stay wherever they are after bifurcation till further notification by the Union government.

“Even the judicial officers are employees of the state government though they are under the administrative control of the High Court,” he pointed out. “The process of creation of separate Telangana is incomplete if the judiciary is not divided along with the executive and legislature,” the CM wrote.

However, the Congress in Telangana which has been spearheading a successful agitation against the Telangana government’s land acquisition plans with the help of a controversial Government Order, alleges that a section of lawyers was instigated by the TRS government to divert the attention of the people from real issues.

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