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Amaravati ‘illegal’ land purchase: no coercive action, A.P. informs SC

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy. File   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Andhra Pradesh government orally stated in the Supreme Court on Friday that it would not take any coercive action against persons named in an FIR concerning the “illegal purchase” of land in Amaravati and was further willing to hand over the case to the CBI for a court-monitored investigation.

The statement was made before a Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Andhra.

Also read: CID names 10 top politicians in Amaravati land scam

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Andhra Pradesh government against a High Court stay on investigation into the FIR that named former Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas and others, including relatives of a sitting Supreme Court judge.

The FIR shows offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, criminal breach of trust and cheating under the Indian Penal Code. The allegations include abuse of official positions in the State, sharing of privileged information and causing loss to the public exchequer during the previous Telegu Desam Party (TDP) regime.

The High Court had stayed the investigation and barred the State from taking any coercive action against the persons named in the FIR.

“We are willing to assure the respondents that no coercive action will be taken. Let the investigation be monitored by court. Let it be investigated by the CBI… but let the investigation continue,” Mr. Dhavan stated in the court.

In fact, the State requested the Centre on March 23 last to initiate a CBI investigation into the FIR.

The court said it would consider the statement and adjourned the case to April 7.

The Bench also adjourned another appeal filed by the Andhra government against a “blanket stay” issued by the High Court into an inquiry into the Amaravati land scam. The High Court had ordered the stay on the basis of a petition by TDP leader Varla Ramaiah.

The events in this case unfolded in June 2019 when the Reddy government issued a notification constituting a Cabinet Sub-Committee to review major policies, projects, programmes, institutions and the key administrative actions taken by the TDP government following the bifurcation of the State of Andhra.

The first report of the committee on December 27, 2019 pointed out “several procedural, legal and financial irregularities and fraudulent transactions concerned with various projects were highlighted, including in the Capital Region Development Authority region”. On February 21, 2020, the State government issued another notification setting up a special investigation team (SIT) to “inquire, register, investigate and conclude the investigation” into the findings of the report.

Both notifications were stayed by the High Court indefinitely in September, prompting the State to approach the apex court for relief.

“The entire process was extremely fair. The State was proceeding in a very, very cautious manner. The committee report suggested major manipulations and systemic inclusion of TDP leaders into the land. The SIT was constituted to look into financial irregularities... It was impossible for the High Court to interfere at a pre-investigation stage... How could the high court interfere on the petitions of busybodies?” senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Andhra in this appeal, submitted in a hearing in November.

In his counter-affidavit, Mr. Ramaiah, who is the respondent in the Supreme Court, accused the Chief Minister of orchestrating a roving inquiry into the TDP regime to “take revenge against people whom he holds responsible for the cases registered against him”.

The State has steadfastly maintained in the Supreme Court that the Amaravati land case was not a product of “regime revenge”.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 1:32:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/amaravati-illegal-land-purchase-no-coercive-action-ap-informs-sc/article33996627.ece

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