Wednesday, March 29, 2023

MLA poaching case: Supreme Court will hear plea against transfer of probe to CBI on February 17

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on February 17, a petition challenging the Telangana High Court’s order to transfer probe into the alleged poaching of four MLAs of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (formerly Telangana Rashtra Samithi), to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The matter was mentioned before the Apex Court by Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra against the December 26 order of the Telangana High Court, which handed over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation.  

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Vijayasen Reddy had also dissolved the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Telangana government, which was probing the politically-sensitive case.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave had mentioned the matter before the Bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala on Tuesday.

Representing the State of Telangana, Dave alleged that an FIR was lodged regarding destabilisation of the state government. The Counsel said they had challenged the Single-Judge order before the Division Bench of the Telangana High Court.  

The Senior Counsel said the Division Bench rejected the LPA on the grounds that it was not maintainable, although the High Court was asked to grant protection and was requested against CBI taking over the probe. 

Dave apprised the Apex Court that there was grave urgency as everything would fail if CBI entered the investigation. CJI Chandrachud had asked Dave to mention the matter again on February 8, assuring him that the Apex Court would hear the case next week.

The case dates back to October 26, 2022, when Tandur MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy had lodged a first information report alleging that three persons had met him, asking him not to contest the elections as candidate of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) party. Instead, he was allegedly asked to resign from BRS. 

Reddy claimed that he was ‘offered’ Rs 100 crore, along with contract works of the Central government, for the same. The BRS MLA further alleged that the accused threatened to lodge criminal cases against him in case he did not agree to their proposal. 

On the basis of his complaint, an FIR was registered at Moinabad Police Station under Sections 120B, 171B, 171E, and 506 of IPC r/w Section 34 of IPC and under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. 

BJP then filed a writ petition before the Telangana High Court, seeking transfer of investigation to either SIT or CBI for a free and fair probe. The High Court of Telangana had permitted the state government-constituted Special Investigation Team on November 15 last year to continue its probe into the MLA poaching case, and also ordered that a Single-Judge Bench of the High Court would monitor the progress of investigation. 

The directions were quashed by the Supreme Court on November 21, which directed the High Court to decide the plea for CBI probe moved by three accused afresh.

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