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YS Vivekananda Reddy murder: Andhra Pradesh High Court dismisses CBI appeal against bail granted to prime accused

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The Andhra Pradesh High Court has dismissed the CBI’s appeal against the bail granted to Yerra Gangi Reddy, a prime suspect in the Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy murder case.

Vivekananda Reddy was the former Pulivendula MLA, a former Lok Sabha MP and a former Andhra Pradesh cabinet minister. He was found dead in his house at Bhakarapuram of Pulivendula Town in Kadapa District on March 15, 2019. His body was found in a pool of blood.

A single-judge bench of Justice Cheekati Manavendranath Roy held that Bail granted due to default on part of investigating agency for not completing the investigation within stipulated time, cannot be cancelled on vague allegations that too depriving right pertaining to personal liberty what is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

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It is also a settled principle of law that once bail is granted, the same cannot be cancelled in a mechanical manner without considering as to whether any circumstances are there to show that the accused on bail misused the concession or jumped bail, the Judge said.

After the murder, a case under Section 174 CrPC was registered by the local police i.e. U/G Police Station, Pulivendula. Subsequently, a case under Section 302 read with Section 120-B of IPC was registered. A Special Investigation Team was constituted and the said SIT carried out the investigation.

During the course of investigation, police arrested Yerra Gangi Reddy on March 28, 2019, and he was remanded to judicial custody.

As the investigation could not be completed within the stipulated period of time of 90 days, default bail was granted to respondent by the Judicial Magistrate of First Class, Pulivendula, on 27.06.2019 under Section 167(2)(a)(i) of CrPC. He was released on bail as per the said order. Subsequently, as per order dated March 11, 2020, passed by the High Court, the investigation in the above crime was entrusted to the CBI.

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According to the CBI, the witnesses are being influenced by the accused and other associates of the accused have been interfering with the investigation and making an attempt to tamper with prosecution evidence and it would hamper the investigation.

Although it is contended by the Public Prosecutor for CBI that Yerra Gangi Reddy has been interfering with the course of investigation and attempting to tamper with the prosecution evidence and has been threatening the witnesses to invoke the aforesaid ground Nos.2 to 4 to cancel the bail that was granted to him, the  Court has absolutely no hesitation to hold that the prosecution has failed to substantiate the said contention by producing any authenticated material before the High Court to show that he has been interfering with the course of investigation or making an attempt to tamper with the prosecution evidence or threatening the witnesses in the case.

Further, the Bench observed that the mere fact that some of the witnesses who have initially given their willingness to record their statements under Section 164 CrPC before the Magistrate have subsequently, resiled from their consent and refused to give statements before the Magistrate and that one of the said witnesses has given a statement before the media that police are threatening him to give false statements by itself also cannot be a ground to hold that they resiled from their willingness to give the statement before the Magistrate at the instance of Gangi Reddy and that the statement before the media was given at his instance. No material is produced before the Court even to prima facie show that they subsequently refused to give the statement before the Magistrate under Section 164 CrPC at the instance of Gangi Reddy or that they gave a statement before the media at his instance.

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Therefore, there is nothing on record to hold that they refused to give statements subsequently at the instance of Gangi Reddy.

“Right of the accused to claim bail on account of default committed by the prosecuting agency in completing the investigation within the time stipulated in the statute is a statutory right of the accused and it is also an indefeasible right of the accused to claim bail. As the investigating agency failed to complete the investigation within the stipulated period of time, default bail was granted to A-1 (Yerra Gangi Reddy). The said indefeasible right of A-1 to claim bail cannot be defeated by cancelling the said bail on vague allegations that there is likelihood of A-1 influencing the witnesses sans any authenticated material produced to substantiate the same. In any way, the right to bail touches the right of a citizen relating to his individual liberty which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. When it is found that he was entitled to bail on account of default committed by the investigating agency in completing the investigation within the stipulated period of time and accordingly, he was enlarged on bail, the said bail cannot be subsequently cancelled on vague allegations depriving him of his right pertaining to his personal liberty what is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”

-the order reads.

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