VIJAYAWADA: Hearing a batch petitions challenging the auction of government properties as part of the Build AP scheme on Friday, a high court bench observed that the situation has reached a point where immovable assets are being sold to run the government.
“Is it not considered a financial emergency if the state government is selling off immovable properties to pool funds?” the bench, comprising comprising Justice Rakesh Kumar and Justice D Ramesh, asked.
The HC had earlier passed an interim directing the government to proceed with the bidding process but not to issue any proceedings alienating the lands pending disposal of petitions. The petitioners argued that though the government has not finalised proceedings pertaining to properties challenged in court, a fresh list of properties has been prepared and notified for auction.
They said some properties are at prime locations and had huge market value but were being auctioned off at throwaway prices. “The lands of Guntur market yard, Guntur sub-jail and some properties notified in Visakhapatnam are so valuable and they cannot be sold for implementation of welfare schemes,” the petitioners said.
One of the petitioner’s counsels mentioned that while on one hand, the government was allowing liquor sales in the middle of the pandemic, on the other, it was selling properties on the pretext of implementing complete liquor prohibition. To this, the bench quipped that everyone should thank tipplers for purchasing liquor at high prices even during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the counsel representing the fishermen community told the court that one of the properties up for auction was a cyclone shelter. He said the community in cyclone-prone areas are dependent on this shelter and that the government cannot sell it for funds. The government pleader intervened and told the bench that AP was not the only state implementing welfare schemes.
As counter affidavits filed by government in some petitions, the high court directed the supply of copies of counter affidavits to all petitioners and posted the matter for further hearing on December 17. The bench further said the petitions will be taken up for final hearing based on the arguments of the petitioners if the counter affidavits by government are not served before the next date of hearing.