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Rise of number of Assembly seats in both Telugu states

If the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre has its way, the assembly seats in both the Telugu states (Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) will go up soon. Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu has said that the cabinet note on raising the number of seats in the Telugu states (Telangana and AP) was ready with the union home ministry and it would get the cabinet nod soon after clearance from the law ministry.

Once the cabinet approves the rise of seats in Telugu states, there would be a bill in Parliament amending the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 to replace the word “subject to” with “notwithstanding.” The Section 26 (1) of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act states that “subject to the provisions of Article 170 of Constitution”, the number of seats in the legislative assembly of the successor states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana shall be increased. The Centre has now proposed to amend the Act deleting the reference to Article 170 to pave way for the increase of seats.

Once the bill is passed, it would facilitate the increase in assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh from 175 to 225 and in Telangana state from 119 to 153. Legal experts, however, argue that the central government cannot increase the Assembly seats unless it amends Article 170 that calls for a moratorium on the increase in the number of seats of state assemblies and the Lok Sabha till the 1st census after 2026. This means the Centre can’t change the present number of seats till the completion of the census in 2031.

On the other hand, sources in Union law ministry observed that it was a “drafting error” in the Act, where Section 26 begins with the phrase, ‘subject to’, instead of ‘notwithstanding’. Law ministry officials reportedly told the home ministry that an amendment is needed to ‘rectify’ the same.

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