Sunday, Dec 14, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The Government's stand on the issue was formulated at a meeting the Chief Minister had with senior officials and legal advisers here on Saturday.
N. Krishna Kumar Goud, joint convenor of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee's legal cell, filed a private complaint on Thursday in the court of the Principal Special Judge for Special Police Establishment and ACB cases in the City Civil Courts here, accusing the Chief Minister, the Minister for Roads and Buildings, Thummala Nageswara Rao, the then Minister for Excise, N. Raghuram, and six officials of conferring pecuniary advantage to a tune of Rs. 550 crores on certain distilleries in excess of the tender condition for supply of liquor between the years 1997-98 and 1999-2000.
In his order of December 12, the Principal Special Judge directed the Director-General, ACB, to investigate the charges and the role of the Chief Minister and 10 others in the purchase of liquor on excess payment.
The order created ripples in political circles with the AICC general-secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh affairs, Ghulam Nabi Azad, demanding that Mr. Chandrababu Naidu resign forthwith. The State Congress leaders saw this as a vindication of their stand against the Chief Minister. They said that Mr. Naidu stonewalled vociferous protests when the issue was raised in the Assembly and got them suspended. The CPI(M) wondered if a fair probe was possible with the ACB remaining under Mr. Naidu's control and the CBI under a "friendly" dispensation. The Telangana Rashtra Samiti president, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, demanded that Mr. Naidu quit and offer to face the enquiry. The NTR TDP president, N. Lakshmi Parvati, said the office of the Chief Minister should be brought under the purview of the Lok Ayukta.
Sources said the Government stand was that the complaint was "clearly politically motivated." Barring a "vague insinuation," it contained no specific allegation against the Chief Minister or other Ministers and officials.
On the basis of the legal opinion obtained, it was felt that the order of the Principal Special Judge for SPE & ACB Cases is a "fit case" to be challenged in the High Court. They added that "legal steps would be taken in this regard. The Telugu Desam Party took the same stand.
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