SC notice on Andhra Pradesh, Telangana MLA seats

Top court admits petition on delimiting state Assembly seats

New Delhi/Hyderabad: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a plea seeking commencement of the delimitation exercise in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state, which would lead to an increase the number of seats in the two state legislatures.

The SC move created a buzz in political circles in both Telugu states as the strength of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly would go up from 175 to 225 and that of Telangana state from 119 to 153, if the petitioner had his way. With elections just an year away in Telangana state, the enhancement in seats would be an advantage to the TRS as it would be able to accommodate more aspirants who could otherwise turn rebels if denied tickets in the present set-up.

“We have been constantly demanding that the Centre enhance seats. Now we will file an affidavit making a strong pitch for the increase in seats,” senior TRS leader and former MP B. Vinod Kumar told Deccan Chronicle.

Congress senior leader Marri Sashidhar Reddy who has been championing the demand for increase in seats, both politically and legally, was of the view that Centre would be pushed to either cancel enhancement of seats in Jammu and Kashmir or allow the same for the two Telugu States.

“There will be two possibilities. First, the delimitation process in J&K should be declared violative of Constitutional and statutory provisions and elections in J&K will have to be held on the basis of the existing Assembly constituencies. Second, it can pave the way for the process of increasing the number of seats in both the Telugu States,” Shashidhar Reddy told Deccan Chronicle.

When contacted, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar refused to react on the subject.

YSRC MLA and AP Planning Board vice chairman Malladi Vishnu said that the Centre had already assured to increase the Assembly seats according to the fresh census. "The Governance, administration and service to the public will be better with the increase in the number of MLA seats and legislators can closely work with people. But if the seats are increased instantly without a Census base there would be chances of legal hurdles," he opined.

YSR Congress MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy said that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy brought decentralisation of governance by establishing village/ward secretariats and also forming new districts taking administration near to the public. "Similarly the increase in the number of Assembly seats to 225 from the present 175 will help people meet their legislators easily. This will also increase the present seven Assembly segments in each Parliament constituency to nine," he said, adding that it is the right of AP state.

When asked, YSRC state party joint secretary Karumuru Venkata Reddy said, "The increase in the number of MLA seats is the right of the people of Andhra Pradesh accorded in the AP Reorganisation Act and it is better if the MLA seats are increased before the elections of 2024." He said that in several constituencies where there population is huge, MLAs are facing a lot of difficulties to meet people under the Gadapa Gadapaku Mana Prabhutvam mass contact programme and this move will resolve the issue. "Hoped that the SC will give a proper verdict considering the rights of AP and Telangana states," he said.

Though the AP Reorganisation Act provides for delimitation in the two states, the Centre avoided it stating that another Constitutional provision renders it impossible till at least after 2031. But, the pitch has been queered by the Centre allowing the delimitation of the Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

On Monday, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice K.M Joseph and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, while issuing notice, tagged the petition filed by one K. Purushottam Reddy with a pending petition on the delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on September 29 when the J&K delimitation matter is listed for consideration.

Appearing for Prof. Reddy advocate Rao Ranjit said the Section 26 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014 was the same as those specifying delimitation relating to J&K in 2019.

Rao Ranjit said while the delimitation exercise in case of J&K was nearly complete but it is yet to start in the case of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

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