Viveka murder case: SC stays Telangana HC order directing release of prime accused Y Gangi Reddy

The Telangana HC ordered Gangi Reddy to surrender on or before 5 May, 2023, upon which he shall be remanded to judicial custody till 30 June.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 26, 2023 | 4:47 PM Updated May 26, 2023 | 4:47 PM

The CBI filed a chargesheet in Vivekananda Reddy's murder case on 26 October 2021 and followed it up with a supplementary chargesheet on 31 January 2022. (Twitter)

In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Friday, 26 May, stayed the Telangana High Court order directing the release of Y Gangi Reddy — accused in YS Vivekananda Reddy’s murder case — which means he will continue to remain in judicial custody even beyond 30 June.

The Telangana High Court by its 27 April order, on a plea by the CBI, ordered Gangi Reddy to surrender on or before 5 May, 2023, upon which he shall be remanded to judicial custody till 30 June, which was the outer limit fixed by the top court for the completion of investigation by CBI.

Former Andhra Pradesh minister Vivekananda Reddy, popularly known as Viveka, was found murdered in the bathroom in his house in the Kadapa district in March 2019.

Related: Telangana HC adjourns Avinash Reddy’s anticipatory bail plea hearing

Orders to enlarge bail

However, the high court by the same order had directed the Principal Special Judge — holding trial in the case — to release Gangi Reddy on bail on 1 July, on his executing a personal bond for a sum of ₹1 lakh with two sureties for the like sum each to the satisfaction of the Court.

Vivekananda Reddy was the uncle of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and brother of late Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

Putting on hold the later part of the order on the release of Gangi Reddy alias Yerra Gangi Reddy, a Vacation Bench of Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha clarified that the accused will continue to remain in judicial custody even after 30 June.

As senior advocate Sidharth Luthra appearing for the petitioner Narreddy Suneetha pointed out that the High Court had ordered Gangi Reddy to be remanded to judicial custody till 30 June and urged the court to clarify that custody is not limited to 30 June, the bench said that once the later part of the order directing the Principal Special Judge to enlarge Gangi Reddy on bail on 1 July, 2023, is stayed, then nothing more needs to be said.

Petitioner Suneetha Narreddy is the daughter of the deceased Vivekanand Reddy.

Asks CBI to file response

Having stayed the order relating to the release of Gangi Reddy, the bench noted that the investigating agency has to file its response to Gangi Reddy’s plea challenging the cancellation of his bail and remanding him to judicial custody at the plea of the CBI.

The court was informed that Gangi Reddy is already in judicial custody. The bench posted the matter for hearing on 14 July.

Challenging the Telangana High Court’s 27 April order, petitioner Narreddy Suneetha had said that the high court order was neither legally justifiable nor in accordance with the law, particularly the direction giving a pre-fixed and a predetermined date for the release of the accused on bail.

In its 27 April order, the high court had cancelled the bail granted to Gangi Reddy but directed that he be released on 1 July. The accused was asked to furnish a personal bond of ₹1 lakh and two sureties.

Challenging the provisions in the high court order in the Supreme Court, the CBI supported Viveka’s daughter Narreddy Sunitha Reddy, who has also opposed the bail.

The CBI said the conditions included in the order were surprising since the high court simultaneously cancelled Gangi Reddy’s bail and granted him the same from 1 July.

Also accused in the case are YSRCP’s Kadapa MP and Viveka’s nephew YS Avinash Reddy — who the CBI has been attempting to arrest over the last four days in Kurnool — and his father Bhaskar Reddy, who is in custody.

The premier investigation agency also said, if provided time, it would file a counter-petition against the order to release the accused.

Related: CBI not to arrest Avinash Reddy, adopts wait-and-watch policy

‘HC order self-contradictory’

Arguing before a vacation bench comprising Justices PS Narasimha and Pankaj Mithal, the CBI had said the high court granting bail to Gangi Reddy was self-contradictory.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the CBI, said that it was the first time that he was hearing about an order that allowed a bail cancellation petition and at the same time allowed it. It is a contradiction, he argued.

The ASG said that they supported the petition (Sunitha’s) and that they want to file an affidavit on 25 May, and urged the court to hear the case on Friday.

The court said that its order would be a balanced one, without denying Gangi Reddy the freedom to seek bail.

Sunitha’s counsel Siddharth Luthra wondered how the high court could grant bail while cancelling it.

When the bench referred to the high court order, which directed the trial court to enlarge the accused on bail on 1 July, the ASG said it “annihilated the whole order”.

Gangi Reddy’s counsel told the bench that they too had filed a plea in the apex court against the high court’s order cancelling the bail.

In its 27 April order, the high court said, “Accused No.1 (Gangi Reddy) is directed to surrender on or before 5 May, 2023.

On his surrender, he shall be remanded to judicial custody till 30 June, 2023, which is the outer limit fixed by the Supreme Court for completion of investigation by CBI.”

Related: CBI terms HC order to release prime accused ‘self-contradictory’

The case so far

Vivekananda Reddy was found murdered in his bathroom in his house in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh in 2019.

Bhaskar Reddy and Avinash Reddy’s names figured in the murder case that created a sensation before the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh in 2019.

Bhaskar Reddy has been charged under Sections 120B (conspiracy), 302 (murder), and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as he played a crucial role in the case, according to the CBI.

The CBI also said that a ₹40 crore “supari” (contract to kill) was offered to the accused to eliminate Viveka.

The Supreme Court last November transferred the case from Andhra Pradesh to a Special CBI Court in Hyderabad for investigation and trial into the conspiracy behind the murder case.

The apex court’s decision came on a petition by Viveka’s daughter, Dr Narreddy Sunitha Reddy, who had in the past alleged that Avinash Reddy was hampering the CBI probe.

Sunitha Reddy was also instrumental in having the investigation, which was being probed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Andhra Pradesh police, transferred to the CBI.

Meanwhile, the CBI, in its counter filed in the high court, opposing anticipatory bail to YSRCP MP Avinash Reddy, mentioned his mobile phone calls from 6 pm on 14 March to 8 am on 15 March, 2019.