21 April 2023 11:29 AM GMT
The Supreme Court of India on Friday stayed an order by the Telangana High Court granting Lok Sabha member YS Avinash Reddy interim protection from arrest till April 25, in a case pertaining to the murder of former Andhra Pradesh minister YS Vivekananda Reddy. Besides this, the top court also stayed the proceedings before the high court in an anticipatory bail application filed by...
The Supreme Court of India on Friday stayed an order by the Telangana High Court granting Lok Sabha member YS Avinash Reddy interim protection from arrest till April 25, in a case pertaining to the murder of former Andhra Pradesh minister YS Vivekananda Reddy. Besides this, the top court also stayed the proceedings before the high court in an anticipatory bail application filed by the legislator belonging to Telangana’s ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP).
“Issue notice. List on Monday. There shall be a stay of the impugned directions contained in paragraph 18 of the impugned order of the High Court. However, till Monday the CBI shall not arrest him,” the bench said while posting the matter for hearing on April 24.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and PS Narasimha was hearing a petition filed by N Sunitha Reddy, the daughter of the slain former minister, challenging the decision of the high court to grant Avinash Reddy interim protection from arrest.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Sunitha Reddy, said that after the probe into the murder was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation, the approver was allegedly threatened, necessitating a transfer out of Andhra Pradesh. In the course of the investigation, the father of Avinash Reddy and another accused was arrested, while he received only a notice under Section 160 (police officer’s power to require the attendance of witnesses) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Luthra took the court through the chronology of events, saying, “Avinash Reddy’s role was clear. It was stated in an affidavit. But, when he was issued this notice, he approaches the high court by filing a writ, which was disposed of with an instruction asking him to appear before the bureau. But, he goes back to the high court, which passes the current order.”
The impugned order was very ‘troublesome’, the senior counsel vehemently argued. Taking the court through the said order, in which the high court had issued a slew of directions, requiring, inter alia, the daily appearance of Avinash Reddy at the CBI office between April 19 and 25, questions and answers to be recorded in printed format, and the questionnaire to be made available to the petitioner, Luthra said, “They are treating him like a houseguest.”.
HC's directions to CBI
While issuing notice on her plea and staying the impugned order, the Chief Justice orally remarked that the directions passed by the High Court were “atrocious and unacceptable”.
Chief Justice Chandrachud asked senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Avinash Reddy, “What kind of an order is this by the high court?” The senior counsel requested time to file a reply. He said, “Today, I do not even have a paper book. I just have the high court order.”
However, Kumar told the bench, "My client is sitting right now in the office of the Central Bureau of Investigation. If there is a stay of this order, he will be arrested immediately." While declining his request for not holding the impugned order in abeyance, the apex court granted Avinash Reddy a minor relief by categorically stating that no arrests would be made till Monday.
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
Last Sunday, 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.
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.
Suneetha Narreddy v. YS Avinash Reddy & Anr. | Diary No. 16579 of 2023
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