Telangana: no constitutional barriers
Now that the proposal for a new Telangana state has entered the legislative stage, in the State Assembly and subsequently Parliament, the constitutional question will take centre stage: does the absence of a supporting State Assembly resolution for the creation of a new Telangana state, an outcome which remains likely, render a parliamentary amendment unconstitutional? In this essay I show that this constitutional question sits at the fault lines of two conflicting constitutional impulses on federalism in India: first, the imperative of crafting an accommodating state-nation and second, to guard against the excesses of venal partisan federalism. On balance, I conclude that the absence of a State Assembly resolution is not a constitutional barrier to the creation of Telangana. We must preserve the Union power to redraw State boundaries unfettered by new constitutional restraints, imposed either by the President or the Supreme Court, as the flexibility to create suitable state-nation arrangements has sustained Indian federalism and political unity. Legal argument against creation
The constitutional legal argument against the creation of Telangana rests on the claim that a State Assembly to which the President refers a Bill to alter State boundaries under the proviso to Article 3 must consent to this proposal for it to be constitutionally valid. As has been pointed out in the opinion columns of this paper, this argument faces a significant hurdle. The Supreme Court has repeatedly clarified that while the State Assembly’s resolution is an important procedural requirement under Article 3, a negative vote or a failure to vote on the referred Bill does not impose substantive constraints on the Union power to enact such legislation. In Babulal Parate (1959) a five-judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court confronted the political jostling around the status of Bombay in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The President had referred a...
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