In a big blow to the BRS government, the Telangana High Court on Monday, 6 February, quashed its appeal against an order by a single judge transferring the investigation in the “Cash for MLAs” case to the CBI.
The CBI will now take over the probe from a Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the state government the moment it gets the Telangana High Court’s order.
The court also refused to stay its order when the Telangana government counsel requested for suspension of the order to enable it to approach the Supreme Court.
The order has paved the way for the CBI to proceed with the investigation.
The central agency has already written letters to the Telangana chief secretary requesting all relevant material in the case.
Following the court’s order, the premier investigating agency will collect the relevant case details from the SIT and re-register the case and conduct its own probe.
All about the case
Three people — Faridabad/Kerala priest Ramachandra Bharathi alias Satish Sharma, Hyderabad hotelier Nanda Kumar, and Tirupati priest Simhayaji Swamy — are already named as accused (A1 to A3) in the case after a complaint was lodged by the BRS MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy, among four legislators, against them on 26 October, 2022.
The trio was arrested from a farmhouse while they were allegedly trying to lure the four MLAs of the ruling BRS to join the BJP.
Subsequently, they were granted bail by the Telangana High Court.
As per the FIR, Rohith Reddy, the complainant in the case, alleged that the accused offered him ₹100 crore and ₹50 crore each to three other MLAs, to leave TRS, now BRS, and contest as BJP candidates in the next Assembly elections scheduled for later this year.
They also allegedly asked Reddy to bring more BRS MLAs by offering ₹50 crore each to join the BJP.
The Telangana government, on 9 November, ordered the setting up of a seven-member SIT to probe the alleged attempt to poach the BRS MLAs.
The SIT probe
The SIT probed threw up several more names in the alleged conspiracy to lure BRS MLAs to the BJP by the party’s three “emissaries”.
Among them were BJP National Secretary (Organisation) BL Sathosh and Tushar Vellapally, a Kerala politician and head of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state.
The SIT submitted to the Telangana High Court articles of evidence that linked Santhosh with Ramachandra Bharathi. This included conversations among the accused in the case.
The articles of evidence also included WhatsApp chats between Santhosh and the accused persons, as well as their call data.
The SIT also filed the evidence of conversations among Hyderabad hotelier Nanda Kumar, Faridabad/Kerala priest Bharathi, and Tirupati pontiff Simhayaji, as well as Santhosh’s WhatsApp chat.
Santhosh and Vellapally have been granted relief from arrest.