Friday, June 14, 2024

CM KCR to blame?

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.SIT won’t alter situation when CM himself circulated videos
.Who handed over data and how to CM remains mystery
.In the political tussle, Constitutional and statutory rights have been forgotten

NAVEENA GHANATE
Hyderabad

The transfer of the BRS MLAs poaching case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by the Telangana High Court has a lot to do with the role played by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, particularly his presser.

The Telangana High Court on Monday ordered the transfer of the MLA poaching case to the CBI from the SIT set up by the state government to investigate the case. The court order came two months after the state police raided a farm house in Moinabad and arrested three accused following a sting operation.

As per the copy of judgment by Justice Vijayasen Reddy, “In the opinion of this Court, constitution of SIT under G.O. Ms. No.63 which act under the Government will not alter the situation, more particularly, when an authority none other than the Hon’ble Chief Minister himself has openly circulated the videos and branded the accused and members of the organised crime as conspirators.

The entire episode and turn out of events is something unprecedented and incomprehensible and unhesitatingly, this Court holds that the accused have made out a case for transfer of investigation”.The Court noted that nobody could explain how the data reached Chief Minister. “The learned counsel for the respondents have not pointed out any provisions of the Cr.P.C. nor offered any plausible explanation or theory as to how the third folder video CDs/pen drives which have been seized under mediators’ report panchanama on 27.10.2022 in F.I.R. No.455 of 2022 have been handed over to the Hon’ble Chief Minister. Who has handed over the same, when and how, remains a mystery. In spite of that, to say that no prejudice is caused to the accused is unreasonable and unacceptable”.

The Court said that rights of the accused to have fair and unbiased investigation are defeated in this case which is in violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
“None of the learned counsel appearing for the State have clarified or explained to the Court as to how these CDs and pen drives surfaced in the Press Meet of the Hon’ble Chief Minister. Not only in the pleadings, even in the oral submissions, the respondents have maintained stoic silence and have chosen to be very cautious on the leakage of investigation material. A veiled attempt was made by the learned Additional Advocate General stating that the de facto complainant might have handed over the CDs/pen drives to the Hon’ble Chief Minister”, the judgment read.

“In the instant case, the events which have unfolded from the date of registration of crime on 26.10.2022 till the Press Conference of the Hon’ble Chief Minister on 03.11.2022, making the investigation CDs / material public without any hesitation would cause reasonable apprehension in the mind of the accused about fair and unbiased investigation”, the judgment said.

The Court pointed that in the political tussle between the BJP and the TRS party, the Constitutional and statutory rights of the accused seem to have been forgotten.The investigation officers have committed serious lapses. It appears, to cover up such lapses, SIT was constituted on 09.11.2022.

When accused are condemned publicly and branded as conspirators leveling serious allegations by none other than the Hon’ble Chief Minister by conducting Press Meet and circulating the videos to the important constitutional functionaries, even before charge-sheet is filed and at the initial stages of the investigation, it cannot be said that investigation is being done in an unbiased and fair manner.

In the above conspectus, the issue boils down to the third folder of CD/Pen Drives, which have been taken on record by this Court and circulated by the Chief Minister to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of this Court and the Hon’ble Chief Justices of other states. While stating that the controversy regarding poaching of MLAs is, no doubt, a serious one, the Court noted:”The official press conference arranged by the Chief Minister and speaking about the sequence of events and the attempt made to poach ruling party MLAs is understandable”.The manner in which the video recordings through electronic spy gadgets and the documents (C-1 to C-6) have been uploaded in the public domain tested on the viewpoint of accused would certainly cause prejudice to them.

The Court observed that the words spoken by the “Hon’ble Chief Minister and agony expressed repeatedly saying that democracy is being murdered and several other statements imputing the top leaders of the BJP in the contemporary political scenario are nothing unusual”.  

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