Wednesday, August 4, 2021

No Insider trading in Amaravati : SC upholds HC’s judgment

  • The complaint was filed six years late
  • The complainant was not a seller

New Delhi: The special leave petition filed by Andhra Pradesh government has been struck off by the Supreme Court on Monday saying that there was no insider trading in Amaravati lands. The SC upheld the judgment given earlier by AP high court. The AP government had challenged the HC judgment through a special leave petition. The SC said there are no merits in the petition filed by the State government. The HC had taken all the factors into consideration before giving the judgment, the SC observed.

The Bench consisting of Justice Vineet Sharan, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari heard arguments for two hours on the SLP and decided to reject it. The State CID had filed a case against Chekka Guru Muralimohan and others basing on a complaint given by Salivendra Suresh of Velagapudi in Amaravati region. Guru Muralimohan and others had challenged the CID case in the AP HC. The HC had given a judgment on 19 January 2021 saying that there  was no insider trading. The State govt. had approached the SC challenging the HC decision.

Dushyant Dave who appeared for AP govt. had argued that the decision of the HC is wrong. “The HC did not take into account the violation of Section 418 of the Official Secrets Act. Government knew why people close to it had bought the lands. People who sold the lands were not knowing the secret that the capital was going to be located there. The HC judge had overlooked this fact,” argued Dave. Mahpuj Nazki also appeared on behalf of AP govt. Paras Kuhad had put forward his arguments on behalf of the original petitioner Suresh. “The HC appears to have overlooked the issues in Section 415 of the Indian Penal Code. The lands were purchased without following any statutory provisions and hiding the fact that the capital would be located there. The notification for Capital Region Development Authority was issued on 30 December 2014. Till that date people did not know where the capital would actually be located. The concerned politicians, officials and their relatives had purchased lands there,” said Paras Kuhad.

Senior advocate Shyam Dewan appeared on behalf of Guru Muralimohan, the respondent. “The HC had taken all factors in to consideration and gave judgment in a transparent, factual and fair manner. It will be insider trading if the purchasing is done knowing the inside information. In the absence of such an eventuality, it is not justified according to law to call it insider trading.  Had any of the land sellers complained? Are there any problems in payment of the land sale proceeds?  The sellers sold away their land for their own benefit. Therefore there is no ground for petitioner’s argument that there was deception. A news item appeared in an English daily on10 June 2014 quoting  Chandrababu Naidu who said that the new capital would come up between Guntur and Vijayawada. Where the information was so very clear, where is wrong?  The complaint on the land purchase was filed on 7 September 2020 and it was registered on 16 of the same month. The complainant is not the seller. There was no problem in the civil agreements between those who sold the land and those who purchased. Then how can a third party complain after six years? As there were many transactions in that area since June 2014, there is no point in judicial inquiry or interference.

Interjecting on behalf of respondent, Dave said the actual notification was issued on 23 April 2015. The question raised by the defense lawyer as to why the complaint was filed six years later, Dave explained that since the complaint was against the officers of the former government, the petitioner had to wait till that government ceased to be  in office. The time gap need not be considered in case of criminal complaints, he said.

Senior counsel Siddhartha Luthra arguing for the respondents contended the section 409 of the IPC has not been violated. Hence the punishment under section 406 is not permissible. “The case was taken up as soon as there was change in the government. On 18 February there was debate on the capital city in Lok Sabha. It was mentioned in the manifesto of the party that came to power. Both the parties knew where the capital would be located. Those who purchased the lands were benefited by 20 times, according to Dave. But as the capital region activities were stalled, the prices have fallen twenty times. How can there be petition after six years? Please dismiss the petition,” argued Luthra.

When Paras Kuhud started his argument on behalf of the original petitioner, the Bench intervened and said the arguments are over. Mahajpur Nazki, on behalf of AP government, intervened to say that the fact that the sellers were SCs was not mentioned in the FIR. Luthra said the arguments should not deviate on the basis of motivated allegations. Ultimately the Bench had upheld the decision of the HC.

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