Is AP opting to leave governance to courts

Hyderabad | Updated: Jan 2 2006, 05:35am hrs
If governments of the day are in a state of slumber, citizens have no choice but to knock the doors of courts to wake them. In recent weeks, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) High Court has given two strong, hitherto unheard of, orders on governance and law and order. It directed the government to provide security to the courts due to growing threat to life inside courts as well as cleaning up of pavements.

The moot question is: do these issues really needed court directions Are they not part of daily governance According to analysts, the government is always looking to courts when they cannot take a decision due to political compulsions. Though not a new strategy, it appears that the AP government is resorting to this route quite often to avoid any political uproar.

Take the issue of encroachments on footpaths in the state capital. Removing them requires strong political will, since most of them belong to the weaker sections and any move to touch them could have a political backlash. Officials feel this is the reason for laxity on the part of earlier governments as well to evict the squatters.

Ironically, most of the pavement hawkers are allowed to put up permanent structures (unauthorisedly) and have even been provided power connections by successive governments. Municipal officials say it is easy to widen roads by acquiring properties but difficult to deal with these hawkers. Interestingly, the court has asked the municipal authorities to file an action-taken-report in six weeks.

In another direction, the court ordered the government to provide security to courts and to the accused brought for trial. In fact, a peeved HC bench asked the states director-general of police to admit that they cannot provide security so that the courts can engage private security. But police officials, in private, say that they lack personnel, which again raises the issue of governance.

To sum up, the strategy of using court direction to implement politically uncomfortable decisions had worked in favour of the government during the AP State Road Transport Corporation employees strike and the medicos strike. On both these occasions, the courts intervened and pacified the agitating groups by a suitable order to the government to ease the woes of the common man. But the recent orders have put the government in a spot, as they concern some fundamental governance issues which do not require judicial intervention.