- Apprentice Lawyer
An Andhra Pradesh High Court order seeking YS Jaganmohan Reddy government's response on whether there is a situation of "constitutional breakdown" in the State, is "disturbing", the Supreme Court said on Friday proceeding to stay the order.
The AP High Court, while hearing over 14 habeas corpus petitions filed by detained individuals, had, on October 1, asked counsel appearing on behalf of the State to come prepared to "assist the court as to whether in circumstances, which are prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh, the court can record a finding that there is constitutional breakdown in the State or not."
The Andhra Pradesh government approached the Supreme Court challenging this order contending that it impinges the doctrine of separation of powers since it is the President who is empowered to go into question of 'breakdown of Constitutional machinery" under Article 356 and not the judiciary.
Article 356 of the Constitution deals with failure of constitutional machinery in a State. Under Article 356 if the President of India, on receipt of report from the Governor of a State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution, he can impose President's Rule.
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta arguing for AP Government submitted that "this is a power exclusively vested in the Executive and cannot be exercised by the Judiciary."
The petition drawn and filed by advocate Mahfooz Nazki states that under the Constitutional framework, it is not for courts to decide as to whether there is a Constitutional breakdown in a State.
The plea also states that the State government had filed an application before the High Court to recall the order under which such question was raised suo moto but it "was not being taken up".
"Question framed by the High Court is not only unprecedented, but is also uncalled for, violative of the basic structure of the Constitution and, it is most respectfully submitted, grossly misconceived," reads the appeal.
The YS Jaganomohan Reddy government has been involved in an open battle against the State's High Court. Reddy had even written to Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde alleging that former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is using the High Court to destabilize and topple his democratically elected government.
The letter had also alleged that a sitting Supreme Court judge was using his influence in the AP High Court to achieve the same object.