Telangana HC judge rejects request to recuse from Andhra farmers’ plea

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Hyderabad:
 A judge of Telangana High Court on Monday rejected the Advocate General’s request to recuse himself from hearing a petition filed by two farmers of Andhra Pradesh seeking orders to restrain the Telangana government from generating electricity from Krishna river water.

Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao took exception to Advocate General B.S. Prasad making the request without citing reasons and remarked that this amounts to “bench hunting”.

“This is in poor taste. We don’t expect the AG’s office to make such unreasonable request,” the judge remarked when the AG repeated his request without giving any reasons for it.

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The AG later dropped his request, paving the way for hearing of the petition.

Earlier, the AG also made request to post the petition before a bench headed by Chief Justice Hima Kohli.

When the petition came up for hearing before the bench of Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar, Additional Advocate General J. Ramachandra Rao requested that it should be heard by a bench headed by the CJ as per roster of sitting arrangements.

However, petitioners’ counsel Vedula Venkatramana contended that the petition should be heard by the same bench since the petition involved issues relating to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.

Later, Justice Ramachandra Rao said the bench had got clarification from the CJ’s office that it should hear the matter. As the AG requested the judge to post it before the bench headed by the CJ, the judge said when the matter was clarified by the CJ’s office, how can it be conveyed to hear the matter.

It was at this point that the AG requested Justice Ramachandra Rao to recuse himself from hearing the petition.

After rejecting his request, the bench took up the petition for hearing. When the petitioner’s counsel presented his arguments, Justice Ramachandra Rao asked him if he was aware of the Supreme Court order that inter-state water disputes should not be heard by the high court.

Venkataramna sought one day time to go through the Supreme Court verdict. The bench later adjourned the hearing to Tuesday.

The farmers from Andhra Pradesh filed the petition amid the raging row between two Telugu states over sharing of Krishna river water. Telangana is demanding Andhra immediately stop work on the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme, calling the project illegal. On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh has raised objection to Telangana generating electricity at Srisailam despite poor inflows in the dam.