VISAKHAPATNAM: Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday stalled inquiry by the Special Investigation Team into the prestigious Waltair Club.
Advocates N. Ashwini Kumar and D. V. Sitharam Murthy, who filed a writ petition, contended that the club was allotted the Settlement Patta way back in 1964. Various revenue authorities had also pointed out that the property of Waltair Club was purely private in nature and government has no claim over the same.
The advocates pointed out that in 2013, an attempt was made by the then state government to take over the Waltair Club land. But the High Court in W. P. No. 13227 of 2013 vide an order dated April 13, 2013 stayed it. After that, till date, no AP government filed any counter affidavit setting out its claim.
Ashwani Kumar, supplementing submissions of his senior Sitharam Murthy, submitted that the term of SIT had ended. Moreover, the SIT lacked jurisdiction to enquire into properties of Waltair Club. This is because the alleged original lessees – the Perla family – claim to have filed a civil suit for resumption of the land. As such, SIT has no jurisdiction to entertain any petition in a private civil dispute, the advocate contended.
Thus, the whole process of SIT undertaking an enquiry is unlawful, without jurisdiction, and without power. It is thus liable to be interdicted by the High Court, the advocates maintained.
Additional advocate general P. Sudhakar Reddy, appearing for SIT, argued that the Special Investigation Team is within its term and has the power to examine any dispute.
The High Court, however, expressed displeasure with these submissions. It passed an order that the High Court is prima facie satisfied that interests of petitioner Waltair Club are to be protected. It thus granted a stay on all further proceedings before SIT. The court further directed SIT not to interfere with the title, possession, occupation and affairs of Waltair Club.
Earlier, taking up suo-moto cognisance of a complaint filed by a third party, the Special Investigation Team formed to probe alleged land scams in Vizag, also took up the Waltair Club case. It called on officials of Waltair Club to prove the authenticity of their documents pertaining to ownership of 15 acres of land on which the club has been located.
One Perla Chetty family leased the land on a perpetual basis in 1900. On this, the SIT claimed that the lease has not been renewed in 1999....