VIJAYAWADA: TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and former minister P Narayana on Thursday filed similar petitions in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, urging it to quash the FIR filed against them by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) in the alleged Amaravati land scam. Terming the FIR illegal, unsustainable and a mala fide case of regime revenge, the former chief minister said in his plea that it was “simply a tool of political vendetta of the current ruling party (YSRC) and its members to silence any dissent in the State.”
Former advocate general Dammalapati Srinivas mentioned the petitions filed by Naidu and former minister and co-accused in the FIR, P Narayana, before Justice CH Manavendranath Rai. He informed the Justice that the CID had searched the residence and offices of Narayana and urged him to hear the pleas on Friday to which the judge agreed. Naidu also urged the court to direct the CID not to take any coercive action or arrest him.
The CID had registered the FIR against Naidu based on a complaint from YSRC MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy for allegedly facilitating alienation of assigned lands in the Amaravati capital region to benefit those close to him. It had summoned him on March 23.
Naidu, while narrating the sequence of events culminating in the announcement of Amaravati as the State capital, claimed “it was well known” that the region between Guntur and Vijayawada was one of the most probable locations for the new capital and no part of the information related to the process could be said to be “privileged or not publicly known” -- in a rebuttal to the allegation.
On the specific allegation of “criminal conspiracy” against him, Naidu submitted that GO No. 41 — from which stems the complainant’s case — was considered by the principal secretary and passed as per law. The GO, issued on February 17, 2016, amended the Land Pooling Scheme Rules allegedly for allotment of returnable plots — both residential and commercial — to buyers of assigned lands.
Pointing out that the GO was issued by the then government, Naidu argued that it is the executive and legislative business of a government to bring Acts, Rules etc. “... the allegations taken on the face of it, do not make out a case... as a sovereign power of rule-making cannot be criminalised and forms part of legislative privilege under the Constitution. A Chief Minister cannot be vicariously held liable for deeds of others merely because his government brought GO No. 41,” he insisted.
Naidu pointed out that the complainant’s argument is based upon the “intent behind the GO No. 41” and explained that the order was a delegated legislation not contrary to any other Act, Rule or Regulation. Instead, it is in conformity with the assignment policy in vogue for decades. “Even now this GO is in force. No motive can be attributed to any act done by either legislature or sub-ordinate legislature....” he said and underlined that as per Section 146 of the APCRDA Act, there was a bar on legal proceedings for any act done under or in pursuance of the Act or the rules or standing orders made there under. He made another point that the incumbent government itself saved the Acts done under APCRDA Act under the APCRDA Repeal Act and as such, the very thrust of their argument is eroded by the fact that they have saved actions which they themselves consider illegal.
He also questioned how could a case be made against him under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1988 which mandates that in such cases, the victim must belong to either SC or ST communities and there ought to be wrongful occupation and dispossession of property. The FIR does not contain any such information pertaining to the alleged victims. He also said the very claim that GO No 41 has provisions which run contrary to the provisions of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 cannot constitute a criminal offence.
It was well known: Naidu
“It was well known” that the region between Guntur and Vijayawada was one of the most probable locations for the new State capital, said former CM Naidu