NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday vacated the gag order passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in a matter related to the Amravati land scam case allegedly involving a former advocate general and two daughters of a senior apex court judge.
A three judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued a notice and slated the matter for final hearing in the last week of January. The court also requested the AP High Court not to decide the former Advocate General’s writ petition finally before the top court adjudicates the matter.
The notice was issued on the plea filed by the Andhra Pradesh government challenging the High Court direction to bar investigation into the FIR filed in relation to the case.
The High Court had also stayed the investigation in relation to the Amravati land scam case, in which the FIR registered by the state’s Anti Corruption Bureau named daughters of a sitting Supreme Court judge.
During the hearing today, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan appearing for the Andhra government argued before the bench that the interim order issued by the High Court couldn't have been passed at all.
Dhavan cited the writ petition by the former Advocate General of AP, stating although malafide was alleged, nothing was presented on record to corroborate it and said, “This was an entirely a political writ petition against the CM and this government.”
He pointed out certain facts about the Amaravati land scam to the bench showing various transactions reportedly involving the former Advocate General and others and said, “Should such a complaint be investigated or not? This is the simplest question here.”
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the former Advocate General and told the bench, “My client is targeted because he was appearing for the (former) CM. This case reeks of malafide. This is worse than the Emergency.”
Refuting all charges against the former AG, Rohatgi said, “It will be a matter of common knowledge where a new capital is coming.”
Senior advocate Harish Salve also appearing for the former Advocate General said that the government has come up with a vote of no confidence against the High Court and its chief justice.
“Instead of requesting HC to vacate its interim order, they came here,” Salve argued adding that it was a clear case of ‘regime revenge’ as there was no illegality in buying land in mid-2015 when thousands had bought land from June 2014, when it became public knowledge that Amaravati will be the new capital.
Dhavan responded to Salve stating that the state government isn't saying anything against the high court nor has any grievances and added, “Yes, I used the term 'regime revenge' when I was appearing for former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa in the 90s for bail. Yes, regime revenge takes place but does it mean a subsequent government can never investigate into any offence that took place during the previous dispensation?”
On the question of investigating the former Advocate General Dhavan said, “Salve's reputation as a law officer has been impeccable. But does it mean being a law officer, someone can never be investigated for a crime? Does a law officer or a lawyer get complete immunity from investigation or prosecution?”