The Telangana High Court has asked the state government to not demolish the existing secretariat complex until the next hearing on October 14.
The directive has temporarily stalled Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's plans to demolish the state secretariat and build a modern complex in its place. He had performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed structure on June 27.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Abhishek Reddy observed that allowing the government to go ahead with the demolition while the issue was still being heard in court would amount to reducing the judicial process to a mere academic exercise.
The state cabinet was expected to discuss the proposed demolition and designs for a new secretariat at its meeting on Tuesday evening. However, petitioners took the government to court, questioning the decision to spend at least Rs 500 crore on a new secretariat complex at a time when the state was facing economic difficulties.
During the hearing, the government counsel told the court that all the offices housed in the secretariat complex have already been vacated. The division bench, in its response, said they could continue functioning from the locations they have been shifted to.
Government sources claimed this was only a "temporary setback" to its plans to raze the old secretariat complex.
The court had earlier stayed a proposal to demolish the Errum Manzil, a Nizam-era palace, in order to build the new assembly complex. It said that the historical structure deserves to be protected even if it has been denotified as a heritage monument.
Activists claim that the Errum Manzil, built in 1870 by a nobleman in the Hyderabad court, was denotified by the government solely to facilitate its demolition.