In a major relief to Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu, the Andhra Pradesh high court in its interim orders on Tuesday stayed the preliminary probe by the Central Bureau of Investigations into his alleged disproportionate assets.
A division bench comprising of Justice G Rohini and Justice Asutosh Mohunta stayed the preliminary inquiry by the CBI as well as the Enforcement Directorate into Naidu's assets and his many other associates, including media baron Ramoji Rao, member of Parliament Nama Nageshwara Rao, industrialists C M Ramesh and B Y Choudhary.
The orders were passed on the vacation petitions filed by Naidu, Ramoji Rao and Nama Nageshwara Rao challenging the orders of the high court passed on November 14 on a petition filed by YSR Congress president and MLA Vijayalakshmi, widow of former chief minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy.
Naidu and others have sought the stay on the ground that the petition of Vijayalakshmi was politically motivated and it had no public interest involved. Naidu also pointed out that several petitions in the past on the similar grounds were dismissed by the court and even the government headed by YS Rajasekhar Reddy, husband of the petitioner, had not found any thing against him.
The petitioner had alleged that Naidu had amassed wealth when he was the chief minister of the state from 1995 to 2004. While the CBI has already booked a case, on the legal front, the case has already seen many interesting twists and turns.
Naidu and his associates had challenged the high court order before the Supreme Court but the apex court refused to intervene in the matter and asked the petitioners to approach the high court for interim order.
Subsequently Naidu, Ramoji Rao and others filed a vacation petition in the high court against the CBI probe.
The matter took a new turn when Reliance Industries also impleaded in the case and Chief Justice Madan Lokur rescued himself from the case on the ground that he had shares in Reliance.
Later on, one more judge V Eswaraiah recused himself following Vijayalakshmi's counsel Sushil Kumar raising doubts about the judge's credibility. He alleged that the family members of Justice Eshwaraih had links with the Telugu Desam Party.
The case was then referred to a bench comprising of Justice G Rohini and Justice Asutosh Mohunta. Again Vijayalakshmi's counsel raised doubts about Justice Rohini, saying the judge had heard three different cases where the verdicts were given in favour of Naidu.
Vijayalakshmi has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking the case against Naidu be transferred to the Supreme Court or the high court of some other state.
During the arguments against the CBI probe into the alleged disproportionate assets of Naidu, the counsels for Naidu and other petitioners alleged that the entire case was politically motivated and it did not involve any public interest.
The counsel of Reliance Industries expressed apprehension that the case can cause damage to the company as well as lakhs of its investors. One of the allegations leveled by the petitioner against Chandrababu Naidu pertains to the decisions regarding the Reliance's investment in the Krishna Godavari basin.
Anil Dhawan, the counsel for Ramoji Rao argued that his clients want to be heard before the court takes a decision as his reputation was at stake.
The court was likely to pass the final order on Wednesday after hearing the arguments of Vijayalakshmi's counsel, who has been opposing the right of the respondents to be heard before the CBI starts its probe.