Monday, December 02, 2013

Who Will Control Law And Order In 'New' Joint Hyderabad?

By Syed Amin Jafri (Guest Writer)

OPINION  The major hurdle that the Group of Ministers (GoM) on formation of Telangana state faced was with regard to determining the ‘status’ of Hyderabad as common capital for the State of Telangana and the residuary state for 10 years consequent to contemplated bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The GoM was also tasked to suggest “legal and administrative measures required to ensure that both the State governments can function efficiently” from Hyderabad as the common capital during this 10-year period. 
The GoM had to contend with not only the demands and pressures of Seemandhra leaders but also the concerns and apprehensions of their Telangana counterparts on the status envisaged for Hyderabad as common capital. Though Union Territory status for Hyderabad, albeit for a limited time-frame, has reportedly been ruled out by the GoM, the proposal for Central control over law and order in Hyderabad on the lines of Delhi or Arunachal Pradesh is being actively pursued. 
Various options being considered to bring law & order under Central control in Hyderabad seek to vest the subject in the Governor by incorporating in the AP Reorganisation Bill special provisions similar to Articles 239 AA (Special provisions with respect to Delhi), Article 258 A (Powers of States to entrust functions to the Union) or Article 371 H (Special provisions with respect to the State of Arunachal Pradesh) of the Constitution. 
However, provisions similar to these Articles can hardly be relevant to AP Reorganisation since Delhi is national capital territory (that is, a union territory with characteristics of a state) and Arunachal Pradesh is a sensitive state bordering China. Article 258 A cannot be invoked before the state of Telangana comes into being. Moreover, public order and police are subjects in the state List and a full-fledged state of Telangana can hardly afford to relinquish its powers on these two key subjects and entrust them to the Central Government in respect of its own state capital. 
However, another contentious issue that is bound to raise the hackles of Telangana protagonists is what would constitute jurisdictional area of “common capital” in respect of law and order in Hyderabad. Will it be Hyderabad police commissionerate limits (which correspond to Hyderabad District) or will it comprise Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerates? GoM is said to be contemplating Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerate limits for law and order and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area for “administrative purposes.” 
This will not be acceptable to Telangana proponents simply because one cannot have two different jurisdictions for the common capital. GHMC has an area of 625 sq kms and population of 67 lakh whereas Hyderabad and Cyberabad police commissionerates together comprise 3,818 sq. kms with 1.12 crore residents. GHMC consists of areas falling under three revenue districts: Hyderabad, Rangareddy and Medak. Hyderabad police commissionerate comprises Hyderabad district and Cyberabad Police Commissionerate consists of large parts of Rangareddy district. 
Hyderabad city police commissionerate is one of the oldest in India, established in 1847 by the Nizam’s Government. The commissionerate was reorganized under Hyderabad City Police Act 1348 Fasli (1938 AD). Currently, Hyderabad city police has jurisdiction over 217 sq kms with population of 42 lakh. The Commissionerate comprises five zones, 23 divisions and 89 police stations. As against sanctioned posts of 13,113 personnel, the city police have actual strength of 8,541 personnel. During 2012, as many as 15,073 cognisable crimes were reported in the city. 
Cyberabad police commissionerate was constituted in February 2003 in view of rapid urban growth in areas around Hyderabad. Cyberabad (Metropolitan Area) Police Act was enacted in 2004. Cyberabad police have jurisdiction over 3,601 sq kms (which is 15.5 times bigger than Hyderabad city police limits) with 70 lakh residents. The commissionerate comprises five zones, 14 divisions and 60 police stations. As against sanctioned strength of 6,877 personnel, the actual strength is 5,088. A total of 16,864 cognisable crimes were reported in Cyberabad limits in 2012. 
The common capital limits for police would be almost five times larger than GHMC area. This will be an oddity with no parallels anywhere in the country. If law & order in Hyderabad and Cyberabad police limits is brought under Central control, the Governor, as also police commissioners of Hyderabad and Cyberabad, would become super chief ministers because they would wield greater power than the chief minister of Telangana. If both the police commissioners report to only the governor, what would the chief minister of Telangana do? Function as a modern-day ‘Raj Pramukh’? The proposal truly smacks of old Hyderabadi saying “ Charanna ke Bandar ko Baraanna ki Rassi!” (For a monkey worth four annas, buying a rope worth 12 annas!) 

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