ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Parliament, State Legislature and Bifurcation

In the context of the proposed division of Andhra Pradesh the question arises, what is the due process for reorganising states? The Constitution and various judgments of the Supreme Court are quite clear that Parliament has the unequivocal power in deciding matters relating to reorganisation of the states. Any debate regarding the constitutional provisions is more in the realm of politics than about any interpretation of the Constitution.

There has been an intense debate in the recent past on the constitutional aspects surrounding the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The prominent politico-constitutional question often being raised is with regard to the role of Parliament and the state legislature in the process of bifurcation. Leaving aside the merits and demerits of bifurcation, it is worth reviewing the constitutional questions being raised in the political debate over the issue. Both the supporters and opponents of bifurcation are looking at the constitutional issues involved from their own political perspectives. An artificial cleavage is sought to be created between political constitutionalism and legal constitutionalism though the constitutional position is not only clear but has been upheld time and again by the apex court while adjudicating many cases over the past five decades.

The first question is on Article 3 of the Constitution. There is a demand now to review Article 3, claiming that it goes against federalism. The dilution of federalism is a political question. The political process operates on what the Constitution says today, not on what the Constitution should have been. During the six decades of post-Independence Indian history there has been an intense battle in the political and legal spheres on many constitutional provisions that strengthen the unitary character of the polity. These debates have led to a proper interpretation. The classic example is that of Article 356. But, barring a few court cases, no serious debate has ever been initiated on amending Article 3 of the Constitution, which clearly keeps the power to bifurcate in the exclusive domain of Parliament. The Constitution accords Parliament unequivocal and unambiguous powers in this regard. The Supreme Court of India has repeatedly upheld this in its judgments between 1959 and 2009. The state legislature was accorded only a consultative role. This is a constitutional reality, evident from a plain reading of the relevant provisions of the Constitution.

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