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SC has power to dump Telangana

New Delhi, May 5: The Supreme Court today said it has enough powers to annul the creation of Telangana if there is any unconstitutionality but declined to stay the notification carving out the new state.

“It is a policy decision. By way of an interim order, we can’t stay the policy decision of the government,” a bench of Justices H.L. Dattu, Madan B. Lokur and S.A. Bobde said. “Maybe at a later stage we will say it is contrary to the constitutional provision.”

The court agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the decision after a detailed hearing. It said it would decide whether the matter can be examined by a three-judge bench or needs to be referred to a five-judge Constitution bench.

Senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan, who was one of several senior counsel appearing for a batch of anti-Telangana petitioners, had pleaded for a stay on the proposed bifurcation notification that will be issued on June 2.

As the various counsel pleaded that no purpose would be served if the notification was not stayed, the court said it has enough powers to deal with the situation if eventually the creation was found contrary to the Constitution.

“Maybe after examining the matter and having heard the parties, this court may say you (government) have violated all constitutional provisions. We may annul that (creation),” Justice Dattu, heading the bench, said.

The court said it would post the matter for hearing in August either by a three-judge bench or a five-judge constitutional bench.

But this did not satisfy the counsel, who continued to plead for a stay.

The bench said: “This court can always scrabble or unscrabble things. This court can always mould the relief. It can always say whether it is retrospective or prospective.” It then adjourned the matter to August 20.

During the hearing, V. Arun Kumar, a Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, also urged the court to stay the notification. Parliamentary proceedings were conducted in an “illegal” manner to pass the bill for carving out Telangana, he said. Kumar said the Centre went ahead despite objections from the state Assembly solely for political benefit.

But the apex court said it would hear all these issues in August.

On March 7, the court had sought a response from the Centre on a batch of PILs challenging the decision to form a separate Telangana state, but at that time too had refused to stay the move.

The petitioners, who include former Andhra chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, have challenged the state’s bifurcation on the ground that it was unconstitutional because there was no consent from the state legislature.

They have also argued that there was no constitutional amendment preceding the bifurcation. Parliament should have first amended or deleted Articles 371D and 371 E, which granted special status to Andhra, the petitioners have said.

The two articles gave special preference to the people of Telangana in matters of employment, education and other government benefits.