The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday granted a four-week stay on the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) investigation into the involvement of former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N Chandrababu Naidu and his former cabinet colleague P Narayana in the Amaravati ‘land scam’.
The respite means Naidu and Narayana don’t need to appear before CID officials on March 23. The CID will proceed with its investigation, excluding the two politicians.
The CID filed an FIR against the two on March 13 and issued notices two days later directing them to appear before the investigation officer (a deputy superintendent) on March 23. The CID said they would be liable for arrest if they failed to turn up for questioning.
Naidu and Narayana have been charged under Sections 120b (criminal conspiracy), 166 (public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person), 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury) and 217 (public servant disobeying direction of law with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture) of the Indian Penal Code, along with provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Andhra Pradesh Assigned Lands (Prohibition of Transfers) Act, 1977.
Naidu and Narayana filed a petition seeking quashing of the FIR. They contended that the case was politically motivated. According to them, Section 146 of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Act stipulated that officials cannot be sued for decisions taken on matters concerning the capital. (The section reads: No suit, prosecution or proceeding
shall lie against the Government or Authority or officer or person for any act done or purporting to be done under or in pursuance of the Act or the rules or standing orders made there under).
The former CM and minister maintain that they are victims of political vendetta.
They also said the CID registered case under SCs, Sts Atrocities (Prevention) Act based on a complaint by ruling YSR Congress Party legislator A Ramakrishna Reddy, not by Dalit farmers whose lands were allegedly forcibly taken. They also told the court that the farmers had received compensation for their lands.
Supreme Court advocate Sidharth Luthra represented Chandrababu, while former advocate general Dammalapati Srinivas represented Narayana.
Additional Advocate General J Nagabhushanam appeared for the state government.
The HC asked CID officials for details of the evidence collected during the preliminary investigation. However, the CID maintained that it could not disclose details of the investigation at this stage.
The HC stayed the investigation for four weeks, saying the matter needed deeper enquiry, specifically with reference to Section 146 of the CRDA Act.