VIJAYAWADA: Expressing anguish over the gag order issued by the High Court in the alleged Amaravati land scam cases, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister Botcha Satyanarayana said that he had never seen in his entire political career of over 30 years an order which stopped an investigation which is in the initial stages. He noted that issues would surface in democracy if any of its four pillars — legislative, executive, judiciary and press — interferes in the functioning of the other.
Speaking to reporters in Tadepalli on Thursday, the minister questioned as to how justified was the gag order when the government has taken decision to probe the issues and appoint agencies within the framework of the Constitution. “It is the right of people to move courts. We respect the judicial system completely. But, how justified is it to say that cabinet sub-committee can’t be constituted, SIT can’t be formed, and that inquiry can’t be initiated into the irregularities of the previous government, especially when there is prima facie evidence?” he wondered. He recalled how probes were done by various governments, including the Centre, into various issues pertaining to the preceding governments.
“Be it the Harshad Mehta scam or the 2G scam or the coal scam, and even in the case of former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa, investigations were done... We respect the judiciary, but just because the names of former advocate general Dammalapati Srinivas and his family members, and those related to a Supreme Court judge were named in the allegations, how fair is it to issue a gag order? If we harass anybody and take action, then we can understand. But, to say no to a cabinet sub-committee, which found prima facie evidence, is something we don’t understand,” he said.
Botcha said that the legal community and others were talking as to how different treatment was being meted out to different people. “When writ petitions were filed against housing for the poor, it was entertained. But there was no problem when plots were allotted to high court judges, officials and others. If it is a common man, it will be a different order, and if it is an affluent person’s issue, then it can’t even be published. We are not saying it. Legal experts and people in general are talking about it,” he claimed.
“Even when allegations surfaced against former chief justices of India Ranjan Gogoi and Deepak Mishra, we didn’t see such gag orders...The four pillars of democracy should not interfere in others’ proceedings. The true meaning of democracy is when they work independently. If the limits are crossed, there will not be an end to it,” he obseved.