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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Andhra HC land deals gag order unprecedented, will go to SC: Jagan govt advisor

The bench of Chief Justice JK Maheshwari issued an order Tuesday night not to report an FIR filed by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau against a former legal officer and others over land purchase in Amaravati.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad | Updated: September 17, 2020 7:13:08 am
sudarshav TV case, SC hearing on sudarshan TV case, zakat foundation, suresh chavhanke, zakat foundation terror-linked funds, indian expressA bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah took note of the plea of the Uttar Pradesh government and stayed the high court's bail order and sought response of the accused leader on the petition. (Express Photo/File)

Calling the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s gag order as “unprecedented”, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, a Cabinet-rank leader who is Advisor to the Andhra Pradesh Government (Public Affairs), Wednesday said the state will challenge it in the Supreme Court shortly.

The bench of Chief Justice JK Maheshwari issued an order Tuesday night not to report an FIR filed by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau against a former legal officer and others over land purchase in Amaravati.

“Our party and government feel that Tuesday night’s order by the court, that too a top court, is unprecedented. We have never seen or heard of this kind of order before. Normally, we see governments trying to muzzle the media or bringing in laws to put curbs on the media. When that happens, we have seen that courts have come forward to safeguard the rights of the media. After the High Court’s order Tuesday night, we are left wondering how the situation has changed so drastically,’’ Ramakrishna Reddy told The Indian Express.

He said the FIR was filed by an agency which is the Anti-Corruption Bureau and it did not contain anything that violated the privacy of the persons named in it.

“There is nothing in the FIR that might have immediately punished those named in it. The only information is that some persons with influence purchased land. So the hurried response by the court in issuing a gag order sets a new precedent,’’ he said.

Read | Setback for Andhra govt, high court stays SIT probe into Amaravati irregularities

“We get the feeling that there is one justice for the common man and another for someone who was a former legal official. The fairness and equality that our courts are known for comes under scrutiny. Instead of dwelling on whether a wrong has been committed or not, the court accepted the petitioner’s contention that the FIR was politically motivated and borne out of revenge, and issued the gag order… We are unable to comprehend how as soon as the FIR was filed, the court issued a gag order. We ask whether there is any objectivity in it. We hope the judges introspect on this order,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh High Court Wednesday stayed investigations by a Special Investigation Team constituted by the YSR Congress Party government to probe all deals, including the Amaravati land purchase, made by the previous Telugu Desam Party government from 2014 to 2019.

TDP leaders Varla Ramaiah and Alapati Raja filed petitions in the High Court, alleging that the government intended to target TDP leaders by forming the SIT, and that it was an act of revenge.

The petitioners said a SIT is usually constituted to probe one or two issues and not everything that a previous government has done. The petitioners also objected to the SIT being given powers of a police station.

The YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government had constituted the 10-member SIT headed by IPS officer K Raghuram Reddy to investigate alleged irregularities during the tenure of the TDP government. The SIT was also empowered to file FIRs and chargesheets – the petitioners objected to this.

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