Vijayawada: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the gag order passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in a matter related to the Amravati land scam case.
The Court also took cognizance of the plea filed by the state government challenging the High Court direction to bar investigation into the FIR filed in relation to the case and issued a notice.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah and Subhash Reddy was hearing a plea filed by the AP government against the gag order passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in relation to an FIR registered against a former Advocate General of the State and others.
The High Court had also stayed the investigation in relation to the Amravati land scam case, in which the FIR registered by the State's Anti Corruption Bureau named daughters of a sitting Supreme Court judge.
Appearing for the state government, Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan submitted that the entire High Court order was based on a letter sent by the State to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on March 23 this year. "Can a March 23 letter be the basis of the ancillary reliefs being granted? This is a writ alleging political malafide...I ask myself is this an anticipatory bail? The probe also stayed," he contended.
Shedding light on the Amravati land scam, Dhavan said that a probe was ordered on September 8. A petition challenging the same was filed on September 15.
"As soon as inquiry was ordered, this writ was filed and it was decided on the same day... the question is can this be passed?" he asked
Pointing out that interim relief was granted after it was contended that the "government was running the affairs in utter disregard of the constitution", Dhavan questioned whether the same could be grounds for relief in a criminal case.
"My client is targeted because he was appearing for the (former) CM. This case reeks of malafide. This is worse than an emergency. CBI did not do anything. My reputation is being damaged," senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi
Senior Advocate Harish Salve termed the plea in the Supreme Court as a "vote of no confidence against the High Court". He also brought up the allegations made by Jagan Mohan Reddy against the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Salve urged the Court not to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 136 stating that the High Court would deal with the issue. Salve went on to contend,
"High Court knows what is happening in the State. This former AG in his writ has pointed out where all he had appeared against the current CM has contended that this is why he was targeted," he said.
Amaravati land scam: ACB registered case against former Advocate General
Vijayawada, 15 September: In a major development, the Anti-Corruption Bureau personnel of Andhra Pradesh registered a case against former Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas and 12 others pertaining to Amaravati land scam in Andhra Pradesh. Dammalapati also worked as the additional Advocate General of AP for some time before being elevated to the status of Advocate General in 2016.
The Director General of ACB, P.S.R. Anjaneyulu, said that the case had been registered under Prevention of Corruption Act, Cheating and Criminal Conspiracy as the case is linked with abusing of official position by the then Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas.
The ACB officials said that the accused obtained pecuniary advantage in the form of land for his father-in-law, brother-in-law and his associates, acquaintances from June 2014 to December 2014. Later, some of the properties were purchased in subsequent years, 2015 and 2016. The lands which were purchased during that period were located either in the core capital area or within the limits of CRDA but abutting the core capital area, the officials said.
Based on the complaint received, the Director General, ACB, ordered a preliminary inquiry and based on the contents of the complaint, an enquiry report FIR was issued.
In the cabinet sub-committee and Special Investigation Team (SIT) reports submitted, it was alleged that by virtue of his position, Dammalapati had access to deliberations going on with regard to the enactment related to the capital and so where it was going to be located.
In violation of the Official Secrets Act, he helped his close relatives, Nananpaneni Lakshminarayana, Nannapaneni Seetharama Raju, Nannapaneni Krishnamurthy, procure about 41.6 acres of land in the core capital area. The investment made to purchase the land was about Rs 4.9 crore. The CRDA had later fixed the value of each acre at Rs 4 crore. As per this calculation, the value of the property would be worth Rs 165 crore.
On the other side, Dammalapati Srinivas, the former Advocate General of AP during Nara Chandrababu Naidu's rule, has sought the AP High Court 's intervention to restrain the AP Police and the Centre from taking any coercive action against him, adding that a court-monitored probe should be initiated into the allegations of irregular land allotment in Amaravati during Naidu regime.
Srinivas, who was appointed as the Advocate General in May 2016, has alleged that the YS. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government has been running the government in utter disregard to the Constitution and rule of law. He said that the Chief Minister had instructed the state police agencies to illegally arrest him without any complaint or FIR, so as to coerce him into a state of genuflection.