The Supreme Court was listening to a plea by the Andhra Pradesh Government against the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court that quashed the FIR against the Ministers and Government officials who were allegedly involved in the Amaravati land scam.
State Of Andhra Pradesh Vs Chekka Guru Murali Mohan: The Supreme Court while hearing the petition of the Andhra Pradesh Government against the order of the High Court that gave relief to the accused in Amravati Land Scam, confirmed with the order of the High Court and dismissed the petition filed by the Government.
Date of judgment:
July 19, 2021
Justices Vineet Sara, J.
Dinesh Maheshwari, J.
Petitioner: STATE OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Respondent: CHEKKA GURU MURALI MOHAN
Whether the land transactions that took place between the buyer and seller should be brought under Section 420 solely on the ground that buyers did not inform the sellers of the land that the capital area is going to be located at their lands? Whether the private transactions of land can be treated as insider trading and is there any criminal conspiracy as alleged in the FIR?
- The Andhra Pradesh Government filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court challenging the order of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, dated 19 January 2021.
- The High Court was hearing the petition seeking to quash FIR against the petitioners under Sections 420, 409, 406 and 120-B of I.P.C who were alleged to have been a part of the Amaravati land scam.
- After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into two parts, there was no capital for the new state and the then Chief Minister, Chandra Babu Naidu implemented CRDA Act that brought 25 villages around the Krishna River to be the part of the capital city.
- It was alleged that prior to the information being made public, several had the knowledge where the capital city was to be built and these people purchased the land adjacent to the CRDA approved land from the farmers deceptively.
- It was brought to the knowledge of the High Court that conspiracy was hatched between the Government officials and political leaders on one hand and several people and companies who bought the land between 2014 and 2019 on the other hand.
- It was also alleged that people who bought the land cheated the farmers by not disclosing the real intention behind purchasing the lands and several purchases were done benami even before the plan for capital city was announced which shows that there was leak of information within the Government resulting in the offence of insider trading.
- Enquiry was held on the basis of the said facts and the petitioners before the High Court were made liable for offences under Sections 420, 409, 406 and 120-B of I.P.C.
- The High Court after hearing the counsels for both the parties concluded that offences mentioned in the complaint were not found out and the concept of insider trading cannot be applied to land transactions and therefore quashed the FIR against the petitioners (respondent before the Supreme Court).
- The Bench looked into the impugned order of the High Court and observed that after considering the law laid down by the Supreme Court in State of Haryana vs Bhajan Lal, the High Court found it fit to quash the FIR against the respondents before this Court.
- Rejecting the submission of counsel for petitioners regarding the applicability of Section 418 of IPC in the case, the Bench observed that it will not be applicable to the facts of the said case and the same was not argued before the High Court nor it is mentioned in the petition.
- Answering to the question whether the buyers cheated the sellers, the Court remarked that there was no loss caused to the sellers and also the buyers were not obliged by any law or any legal contractual relationship to disclose the fact that the capital area is going to be located at their lands.
- The argument made by the counsel that public officials should be brought under PC Act was rejected by the Court on the ground that all the transactions took place between private parties involving private lands and the information of capital lands was already public and therefore there was no fault on the parts of public officials.
- Remarking on the argument that the High Court should not have gone into understanding the facts of the case, the Supreme Court observed that without considering the facts of the case, the HC could not have answered the question whether the FIR can be quashed or not.
- The Bench was of the view that the there was no illegality in the High Court order when it looked into the facts of the case to ascertain whether any offences were made out.
- The Court passed its judgement by quashing the plea of the Andhra Pradesh Government.
The Bench of Supreme Court confirmed with the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court and quashed the petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh Government and upheld the quashing of the FIR by the High Court.
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