Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Telangana MLA Poaching case: Supreme Court directs CBI not to take over investigation till it decides on plea challenging probe transfer

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The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not to take over investigation in the case related to alleged poaching of four MLAs of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (formerly Telangana Rashtra Samithi), till it disposed of an appeal filed by the Telangana Police against the High Court order in the matter.

A petition was filed in the Apex Court by the State of Telangana, challenging the December 26, 2022 order of the Telangana High Court, which handed over the investigation in the matter to CBI.  

While directing the national agency not to take up the probe related to the alleged poaching of MLAs, the Apex Court listed the matter for further hearing in July. 

On December 26 last year, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Vijayasen Reddy had transferred the probe to CBI, besides dissolving the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Telangana government to probe the politically-sensitive case.

Earlier on February 28, the Telangana government had asked the Apex Court as to why did the High Court order investigation by CBI, when there was involvement of State police in the crime and not otherwise.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Telangana government, had termed the consequences of transferring the case to CBI, which was allegedly under BJP’s control, as ‘serious’.

Dave told the Bench led by Justice B.R. Gavai that the order ‘goes’ to the heart of democracy.

He said in case CBI was permitted to investigate, it would call for a grave miscarriage of justice.

The Senior Counsel further quoted BJP as saying at two stages that they did not want a CBI investigation. He said there was no evidence to prove that the SIT investigation was interfered with in any way.

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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