The AP High Court on Monday pulled up the CBI for expressing its inability to probe the IMG Bharata land scam even after the Rajasekhara Reddy government sought an investigation.
Dealing with two public interest petitions, a division bench of the court -- comprising acting chief justice PC Ghose and justice Vilas V Afzulpurkar -- directed the government to file a counteraffidavit on the issue.
Both petitions -- one filed by journalist A B K Prasad and Jagan Mohan Reddy’s financial advisor V Vijay Sai Reddy and the other by advocate Sriranga Rao -- sought a CBI probe into the matter.
The scam related to the allotment of 850 acres of prime land on the outskirts of Hyderabad to IMG Bharata Academies Private Ltd by the Chandrababu Naidu regime in 2004 at a discounted rate of Rs 50,000 per acre.
When chief justice Ghose sought to know why even a preliminary enquiry was not conducted in the case, counsel P Kesava Rao said the agency was preoccupied with other cases.
Pressed further by the chief justice, the counsel said the state government’s own agencies could conduct a prelim probe instead of needing the CBI to do it.
Chief justice Ghose took the CBI to task for taking the plea of being overloaded with cases to investigate.
He said, “We too are preoccupied with several cases. Can we say that we will not take up new cases? How can you say you will not take up this case? Don’t you know that CBI has to take up the cases of states also and not just cases pertaining to the Delhi establishment?”
Justice Ghose pointed out that the CBI was constituted under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act but its purview was extended to the whole of India through later amendments.
“Hence you cannot say that you will not take up matters citing work load, etc. Do not say it again,” he admonished the CBI counsel.
Posting the next hearing to a date two weeks hence, justice Ghose asked the CBI attorney to state exactly what the agency’s constraints were.
The petitioners’ counsels told the court that the Rajasekhara Reddy government had sought a CBI probe into the matter and wrote to the Prime Minister for the purpose, but the CBI joint director in Chennai wrote a letter to the state government saying the agency had manpower constraints in taking up the case.