Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday stayed investigation for four weeks into the FIR registered against N Chandrababu Naidu and former minister P Narayana, the Crime Investigation Department (CID) for alleged irregularities in alienation of assigned lands in the Amaravati capital region.
Justice Manavendranath Roy, who heard the quash petitions filed by Naidu and Narayana, issued the interim orders, pointing out that Section 146 of the Capital Region Development Authority Act prohibits legal action against the government, officials or the CRDA itself for any acts carried out as per its rules.
In this backdrop, the CID’s move appears questionable, he said and ruled that until such time the questions are answered, based on available evidence, the probe against Naidu and Narayana be stayed. The judge also directed respondents, YSRC MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, and the CID to file counter-affidavits as there was a need to get to the bottom of the entire affair given the legal bar against the prosecution under Section 146.
Supreme Court senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, representing Naidu, and former advocate general Dammalapati Srinivas, appearing for Narayana, submitted that the powers that be had earlier attacked the petitioners and now got the CID to file cases in a recalibrated move.
The complainant Alla Ramakrishna Reddy had five years ago filed a case against Naidu in the so-called note-for-vote scandal and the same is still pending in the Apex Court, they said and alleged that the CID’s FIR was part of an ongoing political vendetta.They argued that no irregularities took place in the issuance of GO No. 41 under which assigned lands were allowed to be acquired for the capital Amaravati.
“The GO was issued as per the proposals made by officials. The then CM Naidu and then municipal administration minister Narayana approved it finally as per rules. No prior decision was taken by Naidu or Narayana on assigned lands… besides, Section 146 of the CRDA Act prohibits prosecution,” they said.Countering their arguments, Additional Advocate General Nagabhushan submitted that the decision to include assigned lands in the land acquisition process for Amaravati was taken much before the council of ministers decided on it.
“This was done to benefit TDP leaders… there are no records related to transfer of assigned lands. They acted in violation of the law,” he alleged and cited the example of land allotments in Guntur district. “They acquired 70 acres of assigned lands in Navulur in Guntur district but plots were allotted covering 105 acres. How is that possible? 35 acres allotment was meant to benefit some people… the same modus operandi was repeated elsewhere. They fabricated documents in this process,” he informed the court.
The Additional Advocate General also said that the then tahsildars were involved in these dubious acts and cited the example of A Sudhir against whom a case was booked. He insisted that GO No. 41 was issued at the behest of Naidu and Narayana. The same was endorsed by the then Guntur district collector in a statement under CrPC Section 161. “No note files were there on this entire affair… not even remarks of the then Advocate General. Not only the assignees but also the government and the CRDA suffered loss because of GO 41. In fact, the CRDA rules do not have Assembly approval nor was it in conformity with the PoT Act, he said.On Section 146 of the CRDA Act, the Additional Advocate General argued that prohibition from legal action applies only to acts done in good faith but Naidu and Narayana had acted with mala fide intentions.
‘GO 41 issued at the behest of Naidu, Narayana’
Additional Advocate General Nagabhushan insisted that GO No. 41 was issued at the behest of the then chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and then municipal administration minister Narayana. The same was endorsed by the then Guntur district collector in a statement under CrPC Section 161. Not only the assignees but also the government and the CRDA suffered loss because of GO 41. In fact, the CRDA rules do not have Assembly approval nor was it in conformity with the PoT Act, the Additional AG said.
Former CRDA commissioner questioned
Intensifying its investigation into the alleged alienation of assigned lands in Mangalagiri and Tadikonda constituencies, the CID reportedly questioned former commissioner of Capital Region Development Authority Ch Sreedhar on Friday. Sreedhar served as joint collector of Guntur district and later as CRDA commissioner during the TDP regime. He played a key role in acquiring lands from farmers