Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Thursday reserved orders for now in the criminal revision case filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) challenging the order of the 1st Additional Special Judge for the Trial of SPE & ACB cases, Nampally. The Nampally court had rejected the memo filed by SIT proposing to array BJP leader B.L Santosh, Bhusarapu Srinivas, Tushar Vellapally, and Jaggu Swamy as accused in the TRS MLAs poaching case.
N. Ramchander Rao, former MLC and senior counsel, argued for Bhusarapu Srinivas and informed the court that in his career he has not come across the procedure now adopted by the SIT of filing a memo proposing to array the accused.
Mr. Rao pleaded before the court not to stay the ACB court order as it has rightly gone into very minute details of the case before rejecting the memo. The ACB court has rightly said that section 8 of Prevention and Corruption Act is not applicable to this case as no money was found at the scene of offence, he noted. The ACB judge even observed that the entire case is registered under Prohibition of Corruption Act and other election related offences wherein the punishment is less than seven years and if that be the case, how is it that the law and order police are investigating the case, he asked.
Further, it is the SIT which approached the ACB court and invited this order which went against SIT and now SIT is challenging it before the High Court, Mr. Rao alleged.
Justice D. Nagarjun while agreeing to the contention raised by Mr. Rao said he too hadn't come across such a procedure in the lower courts which the SIT is now following. He posed a hypothetical question and asked what will happen to the investigation if the High Court allows all the petitions challenging 41A CrPC notice.
'SIT cannot go on adding accused to FIR'
After lunch recess, V. Ravichandran, senior counsel appearing for Ramchandra Bharati, an accused in the poaching case, found fault with the procedure adopted by the SIT in filing a memo arraying accused, stating that such a practice is unheard of in criminal law.
The SIT cannot go on adding the names of accused to the FIR without filing an affidavit on oath, the senior counsel said. He further said that the ACB court has rightly pointed out that cases are registered under the PC Act but no evidence under PC Act is placed before the court viz. the Rs. 100 crores which was spoken of during the conversation between the three accused and the complainant, but not even a single rupee was recovered from the scene of offence.
Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sections relating to election offences were registered in the FIR against the accused but no evidence of either luring a person with case and inducing a person or official to commit an election-related offence is probed in this case, Mr. Ravichandran said. He added that if that be the case, we will never know how many new persons will be arrayed as accused.
The WhatsApp messages and the photographs produced cannot be relied upon, the senior counsel averred before the court and prayed the court to dismiss the criminal revision case filed by SIT. Further, the senior counsel informed the court that prior to arraying the accused, the SIT ought to have filed an affidavit on oath in the court.
'Consider SIT's plea to set aside ACB court order'
Advocate General Banda Shivananda Prasad, representing the Special Investigation Team, presented a series of Supreme Court judgments to buttress his contentions that the investigating officer has the power to array any suspect as an accused in a criminal case. It is a simple memo informing the court about the proposed accused who are necessary for further investigation, the AG said.
The AG further said the ACB judge has no jurisdiction to deal with the memo and argued that the accused have not challenged the FIR filed in the Moinabad police station and their only plea is to transfer the investigation of this case to CBI or any other SIT.
Further, the AG pleaded before the court to consider the SIT's plea to set aside the ACB court order and allow the criminal revision case in view of the cases pertaining to Poachgate being adjudicated by the High Court on Friday.
Orders will be pronounced on 9 December.