AP govt withdraws plea in SC against stay on Amravati ‘land scam’ probe

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) After the Supreme Court junked the Andhra Pradesh government plea against the quashing of criminal cases filed in connection with Amravati ‘land scam’, the state government on Thursday withdrew another petition against the stay imposed by the high court in the probe into the scam.

Advocate Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki, representing the state government, informed the top court that state seeks to withdraw the SLP, and it will file the counter affidavit before the high court, together with the application to vacate the stay.

At this, a bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari asked: “You did not file the counter against the stay in high court and came straight here?” Nazki replied: “We are wiser now… We intend to file the counter in the high court.”

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, representing respondents, submitted the state came to the top court at an early stage. “They have had the benefit of a stay for almost 8 months. Let the matter be called here and be decided once and for all. Your Lordships’ order of July 19, is also to have a bearing on the issue here,” he contended.

Justice Saran noted that while in high court, “I used to get very angry when orders were shown fixing a deadline for high court to conclude a matter”.

“High courts can’t be directed. Even Supreme Court can’t,” he said on a request by Luthra, to lay down a timeline for the Andhra Pradesh High Court to decide a case related to the Amravati land scam.

The respondent’s counsel submitted before the top court that the high court may be requested to decide the matter expeditiously. Following this submission, the bench requested the high court to decide the petition expeditiously.

The issue is connected with the SIT probe ordered by the Andhra Pradesh government into the allegations of a scam in the sale of lands near Amravati, in anticipation of the establishment of new state capital after bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. The High court, on September 15 last year, had stayed the SIT probe on a plea by the former Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas.

On July 19, in a major blow to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Supreme Court dismissed the state’s plea against quashing of criminal cases filed in connection with land transaction at Amravati, holding that private sale transactions cannot be criminalised and that the concept of the offence of “insider trading”, cannot be read into Section 420, IPC or into any provisions in the scheme of IPC.

The top court was hearing pleas by the state government challenging the January 19 judgment of the single judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

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