Is Section 8 of AP Reorg Act Meant to Protect Bribery?

By: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

[The writer is CPRO to Telangana CM]

It is reported in the media that AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu had requested President and Prime Minister to frame rules and guidelines under Section 8 of the AP State Reorganization Act vesting the Governor with the power to maintain law and order, protect individual liberty and properties of the citizens of Hyderabad. Before doing this he has also removed Telangana Police Force that was stationed in front of his house as security and in its place an AP Police Battalion has come. These he might have done in the light of fear of a possible arrest in the Note For Vote episode in which one of his party legislators was caught red-handed and arrested. An audio tape was telecast over several channels where Chandrababu Naidu’s voice was heard trying to bribe nominated MLA Elvis Stephenson, seeking his support for Telugu Desam Party in the Telangana Legislative Council election. As of now, Chandrababu Naidu has not denied that the voice in the tape is his. Against this background, Probably Chandrababu Naidu might have thought that it is easy and legal to take shelter under section 8 to escape arrest if it comes to that. But, is section eight really meant to protect all those who indulge in bribery and corruption or it has something else inherent in it? From one side he is depending upon section 8 and on the other hand he is making his own arrangements for his protection.

Going in to the content and context of Section 8 of the Act, it can be clearly understood that it has nothing to do with incidents of bribery and corruption where the Governor’s intervention is required. As per the Act though Hyderabad shall be a common capital for both the states, while it is a permanent one for Telangana, for AP it is only for a period not exceeding ten years. Hyderabad shall remain in the geographical and administrative jurisdiction of Telangana State and for all practical purposes it is part of Telangana and shall be governed by Telangana Government. It is only for the purpose of security of life, liberty and property, Governor has a special responsibility. Further his responsibility extends to matters such as law and order, internal security and security of vital installations, and management and allocation of Government buildings in the common capital area. However, in discharge of these functions also, the Governor shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers of the State of Telangana only, exercises his individual judgment as to the action to be taken. Nowhere in the section 8 there is a mention to Governor’s responsibility with regards to cases of bribery and corruption. Does bribery form part of law and order or internal security or security of vital installations? Does bribery form part of security of life or liberty or property? Is there a single incident during the last one year where Governor was required to intervene to invoke his responsibilities under section 8? Has at any point of time Chandrababu Naidu found a reason to complain? It is only now he thought of this that too when he is figuring in the tapes as aired in the TV channels.

While this is so, the nature of the Constitution of India mandates law and order as a subject of the state, therefore the bulk of the policing lies with the respective states and territories of India. Each state and union territory of India has a state police force, headed by the Director General of Police (DGP) and different agencies function under him like ACB. Each state is controlled by the Chief Minister. The state police are responsible for maintaining law and order in townships of the state and the rural areas. It is also the responsibility of every state to provide required security and related arrangements to a visiting dignitary, be a Chief Minister or a Union Minister as and when they tour in a state other than theirs. None of them by law can take along with them their state police for security or protection. So also should be the case with Chandrababu Naidu. As long as he is in Hyderabad, which is part of Telangana, he has to avail the security and protection from Telangana Police only. Posting his state police is violation of nature of constitution. Similarly as and when any state police has a need to enter in to other state for some investigation or to arrest someone or any police related issue, they necessarily should consult the concerned state police and then only initiate action. Law of the land does not permit to act according to free will.

In India that has 70 years history of democratic governance and where governments changed through ballot once in five years, no one is above law however powerful one might be. Several times top people who occupied high positions have been subjected to legal process and many a times Chief Ministers, Union Ministers and even former Prime Ministers had to face the interrogation and even some of them had to taste jail life too. None is an exception before law. The law will take its own course. Instead of diverting the issue, prove that you are not guilty.

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