SC notice to TDP on Andhra govt’s plea to revive SIT probe in Amaravati land scam

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The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices on a plea filed by the Andhra Pradesh government seeking revival of an SIT (special investigation team) probe in the alleged Amaravati land scam. A three-judge SC bench was hearing a Special Leave Petition by the Andhra Pradesh government, challenging a High Court order, which had stayed GOs (Government Orders) constituting an SIT to probe the allegations of irregularities and insider trading by the previous TDP government, in land transactions in the Amaravati capital region. 

The High Court had previously stayed the orders related to the constitution of the SIT, as well as a cabinet sub-committee meant to review the decisions taken by the previous TDP regime, based on a writ petition filed by TDP leader Varla Ramaiah. While issuing the stay order, the High Court had ruled that the YSRCP government must have legislative approval in order to review the previous government’s decisions.

The High Court had ruled that “[if] previous government’s decisions were to be reviewed, the present dispensation ought to have legislative approval. A government on its own cannot do so and no law has conferred such powers on the state government.” 

Appearing on behalf of the Andhra Pradesh government, senior advocate Dushyant Dave argued that a writ is not maintainable unless the petitioner is personally affected by the action of the state, according to Bar and Bench. Dave said that the plea had no details and the petitioner had no locus standi on the matter. He said that the HC order had stayed all further investigations in the matter.  

The senior advocate also told the Supreme Court bench that the state government had written to the Union government seeking a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe into the allegations, but there has been no response so far. He said that the interference of the court in a premature stage of investigation “demoralises the probe.”

The Andhra Pradesh government has also filed another SLP (special leave petition) in the Supreme Court against a High Court gag order that restraints the media from reporting on an FIR in the Amaravati land case. The FIR filed by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) accuses several people of abusing their official position to buy land in Amaravati before it was officially announced as the capital by the previous Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government.  

The SC has issued notices to TDP leaders, and the respondents have been given a chance to file a counter-affidavit and any additional documents. The matter has been posted for final disposal after four weeks.