In a major blow to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the state's plea against quashing of criminal cases filed in connection with land transactions at Amaravati. A bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari noted that private sale transactions cannot be criminalised and that the concept of the offence of "insider trading" cannot be read into Section 420 of the IPC or into any provisions in the scheme of the IPC.
The top court was hearing pleas by the state government challenging the January 19 judgment of the single judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The state's YSRCP government had filed criminal cases alleging the respondents before the court had purchased lands in Amaravati after being privy to the information from the then Chandrababu Naidu government. It was alleged that information was provided in advance that the area was being developed as state capital after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the state government, argued that provisions of Section 418 of the IPC, read with section 55(5) of the Transfer of Property Act, would be attracted in the present matter, and this aspect has been overlooked by the high court. But the bench said that, in connection with section 418, "we may observe that the said provision would not be attracted in the facts of the present case".
It pointed out that there was no question of any loss being caused to any person or to the sellers or of any cheating by the buyers. "Neither by law nor by a legal contract were the buyers obliged to disclose any facts. In any case, the said question was neither argued before the high court nor are there any pleadings in this regard in this petition nor has this ground been taken," it noted.
The top court cited that there was no such relationship between the buyer and seller for which the buyer was bound to protect the seller.
As it was submitted that high court ought not to have gone into the facts of the case and should have left it to the investigating agency and the trial court to see whether any criminal act was involved, the court said: "We find that without considering the facts of the case, the question whether any criminal case is made out could not have been decided. Then, in no case, can the court go into the question as to whether the FIR is to be quashed or not."