The Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted the gag order passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court restraining the media from reporting about an FIR registered by the state police on Amaravati land scam, allegedly involving a former advocate general and two daughters of a top court judge.
The order came from a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan on an appeal filed by the YS Jaganmohan Reddy Government challenging an Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order that restrained the media from reporting on the issue. The high court had also stayed the probe into the case.
Issuing notices to the respondents, the Bench posted the matter for final hearing in the last week of January 2021.
The top court asked the Andhra Pradesh High Court not to dispose of the former advocate general’s petition against FIR during the pendency of the matter before it.
Senior counsel Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, representing the former advocate general and others, submitted that it was a case of political vendetta and ‘regime revenge’.
They contended there was no illegality in purchasing land in 2015 as thousands of people did so since June 2014 after it became public that Andhra Pradesh’s capital was being shifted to Amaravati.
On behalf of the state government, senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan submitted, “This is an entire political writ petition against the Chief Minister. The plea is based not on facts, but reliable sources which too are not revealed.”
The Anti-Corruption Bureau of Andhra Pradesh Police had registered an FIR against the former advocate general, two daughters of a sitting Supreme Court judge and 11 others, accusing them of purchasing land in Amaravati — proposed capital of the state — as they had prior information about the decision.
But the high court had restrained the media from reporting and stayed the probe into the case.
The Andhra Pradesh government had moved the top court on September 21 against the high court’s order.