The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to former Minister Ponguru Narayana in a case relating alleged irregularities in sale of assigned lands in the Amaravati region. In an interim order on a petition by Narayana, the court barred the CID from arresting him for three months. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader had filed the petition seeking anticipatory bail on health grounds, telling the court that he may have to travel abroad for medical treatment. This came a day after the Special Investigation Team of CID probing the case arrested five close aides of Narayana.
The CID arrested Kolli Sivaram, an employee of Ramakrishna Housing Ltd, Gattem Venkatesh, Chikkala Vijaya Saradhi, K.K. Dora Babu and Bade Anjaneyulu under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the CID, the accused committed various irregularities in the purchase of 1,100 acres in villages in Amaravati region.
The case was registered in 2020 on a complaint by Y. Prasad Kumar. As then Municipal Administration and Urban Developent Minister, Narayana had allegedly orchestrated the illegal purchase of assigned land in the capital city area, using his own relatives and acquaintances as benami transactions, it said. Assigned lands are the lands allotted by the government to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and as per the rules, they can't be purchased or sold.
The investigating team claimed that the then minister ignored the findings of then Guntur Collector Kantilal Dande and then CRDA Commissioner Cherukuri Sreedhar. The CID claimed to have so far unearthed a financial trail of Rs 15 crore from the accused to the family members of Narayana through the bank accounts of Ramakrishna Housing Ltd.
Narayana and his associates allegedly created insecurity in the minds of gullible farmers who were in the possession of assigned lands or encroachers or occupants of government lands, more particularly the SCs and backward castes. Some revenue officials spread a message that the government would take away the assigned lands from the persons who are in their possession.
According to the CID, Narayana, who as mister, had powers to grant town layouts and buildings permissions, allegedly conspired with K.P.V. Anjani Kumar, director of Ramakrishna Housing Ltd to purchase the assigned lands at very low prices.
The case was registered after the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) came to power. The party alleged that during the previous TDP government, many of its leaders committed irregularities with regard to land transactions before announcing that Amaravati will be developed as the new state capital.
Last week, the High Court had granted anticipatory bail to Narayana in the case registered by the CID with respect to alleged land dealings in the guise of inner ring road alignment and Amaravati capital city master plan.
The CID earlier filed a case against TDP President and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, former minister Narayana and others based on a complaint filed by Mangalagiri MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy alleging that land deals had taken place in the name of change in Amaravati inner ring road alignment design.
Narayana, realtor Lingamaneni Ramesh, his brother Lingamaneni Venkata Surya Rajasekhar, Anjani Kumar and others were named as accused by the CID in the case.