ANDHRA PRADESH

CM throws challenge at Opposition

Hyderabad Sept. 26. The Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, on Friday announced a judicial probe into the stamp papers scam by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, conceding the demand made by the Opposition through three days of debate in the Assembly.

He told the Assembly that he would write to the Centre immediately seeking expeditious approval for making available a judge of the apex court.

Replying to the debate, Mr. Naidu maintained that his Government was clean while dealing with the scam and offered to further create "whatever agency" sought by the judge to facilitate his job. If existing Central agencies were to be used, the Opposition might charge that he was using his clout with the Centre. He dared the Opposition to ask their respective State Governments to seek such agencies.

The Opposition protested at the reply, dubbing it insufficient, and suggesting that if the Government was sincere, it would have arrested C. Krishna Yadav apart from prosecuting the other 41 accused in the case relating to the State without delay.

Confirmation of the voice on tape was the only evidence based on which the Maharashtra police arrested Krishna Yadav, the Chief Minister said.

Mr Naidu said his party's commitment to check criminalisation of politics was such that it had expelled him forthwith on that little evidence. Further, four police officials whose link was alleged in the racket or who were accused of delaying prosecution of the 41 accused in the Begum Bazar case were suspended. Besides, B. Kamal Kumar, a senior police officer, was asked to identify more police names involved in the racket, if any.

Referring to white-collar and economic offences, the Chief Minister announced his decision to introduce a law in line with the recommendations of the N. Vittal Committee to prevent them and provide for confiscation of "ill-gotten monies and properties" as in the case of urban cooperative banks.

On Abdul Kareem Telgi, the kingpin behind the stamp scam, Mr. Naidu gave a chronology of events leading to his arrest in "Andhra Pradesh only" in 1999. The amount involved in AP was Rs 9 crores and seven cases here had already been referred to the CBI.

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