The Hyderabad High Court has ordered a re-probe into the sensational Yeleru land scam.
A Full Bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, Justice S.V. Bhatt and Justice M. Seetharama Murti directed that the senior presiding officers of the reference courts-cum-senior civil courts at Chodavaram and Anakapalli of Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh conduct the fresh probe.
This was one of the last judgments delivered by the Hyderabad HC three days before separate HCs for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were constituted. The Full Bench, in its judgment, made it clear that the Crime Investigation Department (CID) also can go ahead with its investigation. However, it cannot invoke any penal provisions as the same matter was assigned to the trial court.
The CID can present a final report with its findings. The courts of Chodavaram and Anakapalli were instructed to re-open all the cases connected to applications of cheques issued for acquisition of lands. These matters were related to Pisinikada, Yalamanchili, Vizag Steel Plant and Yeleru land acquisitions. These irregularities came to be known as Yeleru land scam.
When the scam got busted in 1990s, it was found that fraudulent claims were made and even court records were tampered with. As the trial court issued orders directing the government to pay compensation to the petitioners, the erstwhile united AP government secretariat released crores of rupees. It came to light that the money released thus landed in the hands of persons not connected to the acquired lands. Investigators found the farmers, whose lands were acquired and on whose names compensation was collected, did not even know about the claims.
A lawyer and a sub-judge accused of conspiring with some people to misappropriate the compensation were arrested and lodged in prison then. Eventually, the sub-judge was dismissed from service.
The inquiry reports and the findings of the CID officials got entangled in long legal battles as some of the accused moved HC raising legal technicalities about the authenticity of the B.K. Somasekhara Commission constituted by the government. The matters reached the Supreme Court which finally remanded the matters back to Hyderabad HC. The CJ constituted the Full Bench to hear all the petitions related to Yeleru land acquisition matters. After hearing both the sides, the Full Bench pronounced the verdict. It instructed that the senior civil courts of Anakapalli and Chodavaram to file complaints before the competent jurisdictional first class judicial magistrate. It should be preceded by a preliminary probe under section 340 of Criminal Procedure Code by summoning all the connected persons.