19 July 2023 6:27 AM GMT
The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday sought the response of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Suneetha Nareddy’s plea challenging the grant of anticipatory bail to Lok Sabha member YS Avinash Reddy by the Telangana High Court. Besides this, the top court also directed the central agency to file, in a sealed cover, a copy of the charge-sheet, as well as that of original...
The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday sought the response of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Suneetha Nareddy’s plea challenging the grant of anticipatory bail to Lok Sabha member YS Avinash Reddy by the Telangana High Court. Besides this, the top court also directed the central agency to file, in a sealed cover, a copy of the charge-sheet, as well as that of original case files pertaining to the murder of former Andhra Pradesh minister YS Vivekananda Reddy.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi was hearing a batch of pleas connected with the Vivekananda Reddy murder, including a petition filed by his daughter challenging the pre-arrest bail granted to YS Avinash Reddy, an MP from Telangana’s ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) and her cousin.
Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra informed the bench that the CBI had neither filed its counter-affidavit in response to Nareddy’s plea, nor placed on record the charge-sheet. “As per the last order, we filed a charge sheet by June 30,” the counsel for the probe agency said, “We are yet to file a copy of it.” He added, “We also need two weeks’ time to file a counter-affidavit on behalf of the CBI.”
“Let the case diaries also come, Your Lordships,” Luthra further insisted, “You would want to see them for the sake of completeness because there is a lot of material which has not come on record.”
When the counsel for Avinash Reddy remonstrated, Justice Khanna clarified that the bench was not passing any orders. “Whatever orders have been passed will continue,” the judge said, before pronouncing the following order:
“Counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation has prayed for and is granted two weeks’ time to file a reply. The CBI will, along with the reply, file a copy of the charge-sheet. The CBI will also produce before this court the original case files in a sealed cover. Copies of the reply will be served on the counsel for the petitioners and the respondents and they are granted liberty to file their response to the counter-affidavit within three weeks from the date of service.”
Notice issued in Yerra Gangi Reddy’s plea against Telangana HC order directing him to surrender before the CBI
Notably, the bench also issued notice in a petition by T Gangi Reddy, prime accused in the Vivekananda murder, challenging an order of the Telangana High Court directing him to surrender before the Central Bureau of Investigation.
In the April 27 order, a single bench of Justice Chillakur Sumalatha had directed Yerra Gangi Reddy to surrender before the CBI on May 5. However, in the same order, the court had also directed that Gangi Reddy should be released on bail on July 1. As per the order, since the Supreme Court had given the CBI time till June 30 to complete its investigation into the murder case, it was pointless to deny Y Gangi Reddy his liberty beyond that point in time. However, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court stayed the impugned order to the extent that it directed the central agency to release Y Gangi Reddy on July 1.
Senior Advocate Dama Seshadri Naidu, appearing for T Gangi Reddy, argued, “He is inside even though he should have been released by June 30.” “That order has been stayed,” Justice Khanna said, “Mr Naidu, he will have to wait. This is a murder case. We’ll have to examine this and see if there is material.”
YS Vivekananda Reddy, a member of the Indian National Congress and brother of the late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy was found murdered at his residence in Pulivendula in Kadapa district in 2019. The case was initially probed by a special investigation team (SIT) of the state crime investigation department, but was handed over in July 2020 to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which filed a charge sheet in October 2021 and a supplementary charge sheet in January last year.
In November last year, the apex court had directed the trial of Vivekananda Reddy’s murder to be transferred from Andhra Pradesh to a special CBI court in Hyderabad, noting that the apprehensions raised by his wife and daughter regarding derailment of a fair trial were reasonable.
In April, the Central Bureau of Investigation issued a summons to Avinash Reddy, hours after arresting YS Bhaskar Reddy, his father and uncle of Andhra chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy from his residence. In anticipation of his arrest, Avinash Reddy approached the high court. In a relief to Avinash Reddy, a single judge of the high court reserved its order till Tuesday, April 25, while granting him protection from arrest till then. However, this order was initially stayed and later set aside by the Supreme Court, saying that it ‘stultified’ the investigation. A bench headed by Chief Justice Chandrachud pronounced:
“The findings of the high court are clearly premature. Having due regard to what has been stated by CBI, we are of the view that high court has misapplied itself and passed an extraordinary order. An order of this nature will harm the investigation. There is no warrant for the high court that a person investigated should have questions in written or printed form. Such orders of the court allow grave prejudice to investigation.”
In May, observing that no direct evidence was available to prove his participation in a larger conspiracy, the Telangana High Court granted anticipatory bail to the YS Avinash Reddy. In its order, the single-judge bench noted:
“From the investigation done so far, there is no allegation at any point of time CBI claimed about interference of the petitioner in the investigation and involved in tampering of evidence and threatening the witnesses and the complainant, except the allegation touching the destruction of scene of offence.”
This order was challenged by preferring an appeal by special leave before the Supreme Court, as was an order of the Telangana High Court directing T Gangi Reddy to be released by the Central Bureau of Investigation on July 1.
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