The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the state of Andhra Pradesh to withdraw its petition filed against the stay imposed by the AP High Court on the probe into the Amaravati Land Scam case.
The issue relates to the Special Investigation Team probe ordered by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government into allegations of large-scale scam through the sale of lands near Amaravati, in anticipation of the establishment of new state capital there after the bifurcation of the Andhra Pradesh in 2014. On September 15 last year, the then-Chief Justice J K Maheshwari of the High Court had stayed the SIT probe acting on a petition filed by the former Advocate General Dammalapati Srinivas.
The High Court also passed a gag order against media reportage and social media discussions on the contents of the FIR. On November 25 last year, the Supreme Court had issued notice on the petition filed by the State of AP against the High Court's interim order. The Court had also requested the High Court not to decide the writ petition in the meanwhile.The Supreme Court also stayed the gag order passed by the High Court. However, the Supreme Court had not interfered with the stay order passed by the High Court on the investigation into the FIR registered for Amaravati land scam.
On Thursday, the bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari also requested the High Court to decide the matter expeditiously.
Advocate Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki, for the petitioner-state, Informed the bench that the state seeks to withdraw the SLP to be able to file the counter affidavit before the High Court, together with the application to vacate the stay.
"You don't file the counter against the stay in the High Court and come straight here? What do you do in normal cases? Had it been Rampal v. Shyam Pal, what would you do? What is to be the fate of such petitions?", asked the bench.
"We are wiser now and we pray that we are allowed to go to the High Court. We intend to file the counter in the High Court", replied the advocate.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, for the respondents, advanced, "They came here at the earliest stage. They have been enjoying a stay from November 25, 2020. 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"
In a blow to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Supreme Court bench of Justice Saran and Maheshwari had on Monday (July 19) dismissed the state's SLPs against the quashing of criminal cases filed in connection with the alleged 'insider trading' in land transactions at Amaravati.
Mr. Luthra also told the bench that after the registration of the FIR in the matter, an amended petition has been filed before the High Court which is yet to be considered.
Proceeding to pass its order, the bench recorded that the advocate for petitioner-state has made a prayer for withdrawal of the SLP, and the respondents have pointed out that the matter has been pending before the Supreme Court for more than 7 months and hence, the High Court may be requested to decide the matter expeditiously.
Allowing the petitioner's prayer for withdrawal, the bench dismissed the petition. The bench also requested the High Court to decide the petition expeditiously, after considering the amendment petition as filed by the petitioners before it.
CASE: STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH vs. CHEKKA GURU MURALI MOHANCORAM: Justice Vineet Saran and Dinesh MaheshwariCITATION: LL 2021 SC 314