In a peculiar development in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, a division bench has converted the hearing on a batch of habeas corpus petitions and petitions alleging police excesses as a hearing on the issue whether there is a "constitutional breakdown" in the State of Andhra Pradesh.
A division bench comprising Justices Rakesh Kumar and Uma Devi has directed the government counsel to make submissions on whether the court can record a finding that there is Constitutional breakdown in the light of the circumstances which are prevailing in the State of AP.
"...on the next hearing date, the learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the State may come prepared to assist the Court as to whether in the circumstances, which are prevailing in the State of Andhra Pradesh, the Court can record a finding that there is a constitutional breakdown in the State or not", said the bench in an order passed on October 1.
The bench has been since posting the batch cases from time to time on different dates.
During the hearing held on Friday(November 20), certain interesting exchanges happened in the court, when Justice Rakesh Kumar, the presiding judge, made several oral observations on the policy decisions of the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government of the State.
Justice Rakesh Kumar termed the three-capital decision of the Jagan Government to be "mindless", as crores of public money have already been spent on the present capital.
When this observation was made, the State Counsel SSP Prasad pointed out that the judge was once part of the full bench which had heard the cases challenging the decision to trifurcate the capital as legislative, executive and judicial capitals.
Now that the judge is no longer part of that bench, he ought to refrain from making observations on the issue, the counsel submitted.
The State Senior Counsel SSP Prasad also submitted that nowadays courts are forgetting their role and overstepping their jurisdiction.
Justice Kumar further passed comments on the decision of the State Government to shift the High Court to Kurnool. He observed that the present High Court building at Amaravati was inaugurated by the Chief Justice of India.
In response, the State Counsel submitted that many were still wondering about the factors which led the then decision-makers to locate the High Court at the present site after the bifurcation of the State of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
Many advocates wondered how a deserted place with no amenities and facilities was chosen for the High Court, the state counsel advanced.
Following this, Justice Rakesh Kumar commented that he was only expressing his personal views.
The hearing will continue on Monday.
Justice Rakesh Kumar was transferred from Patna High Court to Andhra Pradesh High Court last year.
Shortly before his transfer to AP High Court, Justice Rakesh Kumar had created a furore in the Patna High Court by passing a direction for CBI investigation into alleged corruption in the subordinate judiciary. In that order, Justice Rakesh Kumar had made startling observations such as "corruption in this High Court is an open secret" and that "judges were more interested in enjoying privileges than administering justice".
The High Court and the State Government are seemingly on a collision course. Last month, the Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy had shot off a letter to the Chief Justice of India alleging that few judges of the High Court were trying to destabilize the government by passing adverse orders against it on petitions filed by the TPD, the political opposition.
The High Court has ordered a status quo on the three-capital decision and has stayed the SIT inquiry announced by the government into Amaravati land scam.