Amaravati, Mar 19 (PTI): The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday stayed for four weeks, all further proceedings against former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and former minister P Narayana in the 'Amaravati land Scam case,' stating that the very maintainability of the case has to be decided first.
The court directed the Crime Investigation Department, which registered a criminal case against Chandrababu, Narayana and other officials, to file a counter within four weeks.
Justice Ch Manavendranath Roy delivered the order on a criminal petition filed by Chandrababu, seeking immediate quashing of the FIR registered by the CID, with senior Supreme Court advocate Siddhartha Luthra arguing that the 'entire programme has been brought to light and hatched with a political vendetta in mind.' 'Nothing on record is present to show the involvement of the applicant (Chandrababu) for the offences mentioned (in the FIR),' he contended.
The judge asked the CID to submit evidence of the prima facie case made out against the former CM and the former minister, to which the police agency said it was still in the initial stages of investigation only.
Justice Roy questioned the CID how it could file a case when Section 146 of the AP Capital Region Development Act granted immunity to officials and other authorities.
'The maintainability of the case has to be decided first.
Then we will go into the merits of the case,' he observed.
While hearing the counter arguments of the CID counsel in the afternoon,after the petitioners lawyer presented his case in the morning, the judge questioned whether the impugned GO No.41, on which the CID sought to base its case on, was ever challenged (in a court of law).
'Has any court struck down the GO? When it has not happened, how can there be criminal liability,'? Justice Roy asked.
He then directed the CID to file a counter and deferred the case for four weeks, with an order that all further proceedings in the case be stayed.
The CID FIR was filed on March 12 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy, and also the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Section 7 of AP Assigned Lands (Prohibition of Transfer) Act, 1977 was also invoked in the case.
The FIR was based on a complaint filed by YSRC MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy on February 24, more than a month after the High Court struck down a case pertaining to 'insider trading' in the Amaravati land scam.
The issue pertains to pooling of land for the development of the states new capital city Amaravati in the year 2015.
The CID served notices to both Chandrababu and Narayana, asking them to appear before the Investigating Officer at its regional office in Vijayawada on March 23 and 22 respectively for examination to ascertain facts which are within your exclusive knowledge.
The single judges order gave a reprieve to the former Chief Minister and his former Cabinet colleague.
Meanwhile, the CID officials went ahead with the probe and questioned IAS officer Cherukuri Sridhar on Friday.
Sridhar was first Joint Collector of Guntur district, when the land deals were struck, and later the CRDA Commissioner. PTI DBV APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR