SC sets aside AP high court stay on probe into Amaravati land scam

Vijayawada: The Supreme Court has set aside the Andhra Pradesh High Court ordering a stay of two GOs to probe the Amaravati land scam and opined that the HC is expected, instead, to decide and dispose of the writ petitions. “The HC would do so on merit, in accordance with law, and without being influenced by any observations made in our order,” the court said.

A division bench of Justices MR Shah and MM Sundresh held a hearing in New Delhi on Wednesday on a petition filed by the AP government challenging the AP HC stay order on its two GOs.

The court asked the AP HC to try and dispose of the writ petitions within a period of three months and directed it to add the Union of India as a respondent and take its views on the issue.

The court observed, “The AP HC ought not to have granted an interim stay when it was not required. The matter is at a premature nascent stage. The central government is yet to take a call on the letter and consent given by the first petition. It would have been better, had the HC permitted the contending parties to complete the pleadings and thereafter decided on the writ petitions.”

“It has also been brought to our notice that the petitioners did file an application to implead the Union of India and the Enforcement Directorate but the AP HC dismissed such an application by issuing a separate order, inter alia holding that the presence of the proposed respondents was not required.

The approach of the AP HC with regard to this ought not to have been adopted, the SC said.

“Perhaps, the respondents/petitioners themselves could have made the Union of India a party to the petitions. There is no doubt in our mind that the Union of India is a proper and necessary party to be arrayed as a respondent in the petitions.”

State government counsel Niranjan Reddy submitted that the AP HC stayed further proceedings on two GOs on the ground that the new government cannot not be permitted to overturn the decisions of the previous government. Also, there was a likelihood of bias as both the complainant and the investigator are
the same. “These two aspects are completely unsustainable.”

He submitted that the AP HC did not appreciate the fact that there were widespread allegations of corruption and they were to be investigated and that AP did not act with malafide intention as projected before the AP HC. He added that AP had proposed to get the allegations inquired by a central Agency like CBI. Original writ petitioners’ counsel Siddarth Dave submitted that the present appeals were against the interim stay order issued by the AP HC and the main writ petitions were yet to be considered, decided and disposed of. He said the AP HC stay order continued for more than two years and submitted to the apex court to leave the merits of the matter to the HC to decide on the pending writ petitions.

The AP government issued an order dated 26-06-2019 to appoint a cabinet sub- committee to examine the allegations of corruption against members of previous TD government. The cabinet sub-committee submitted an interim report on December 27, 2019, recording its prima facie findings about certain allegations. The sub- committee also resolved to consider handing over of the investigation to the CBI/CID/Lokayukta.

The state government issued another order dated February 21, 2020 to set up a Special Investigation Team to undertake an investigation into the allegations. However, the SIT head asked the state government to hand over the case to CBI, given the wide-spread ramifications involved in the case.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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