The CBI is likely to approach the Telangana High Court if the state government fails to hand over the FIR copy related to the “Cash for MLAs” case, along with all the evidence collected so far during the investigation by the police and the specially-constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Though the state government withdrew general consent given to the CBI in October 2022 restricting it from probing the cases in Telangana, a special team from New Delhi has already arrived and is camping at its regional office in Hyderabad to collect the case details.
After the high court on 6 February, dismissed the Telangana government’s plea challenging the decision of a single judge to transfer to CBI the probe into the Cash for MLAs case — an alleged attempt by the BJP to poach four BRS MLAs for a total consideration of ₹250 crore — from the SIT, the premier investigating agency expedited the process of taking over the case from probe team.
Since the order enabled it to proceed with the investigation, the CBI wrote a letter to the Telangana Chief Secretary A Santhi Kumari seeking all the case details.
The response from the state government is still awaited.
CBI writes five letters
In its fifth letter addressed to Chief Secretary Santhi Kumari on 6 February, CBI New Delhi unit Superintendent of Police Suman Kumar requested her to refer the order issued by the high court on 6 February upholding the single judge order directing the transfer of investigation in FIR number 455/2022 registered at Moinabad Police Station to CBI.
Related: SC to hear Telangana plea only on 17 Feb, decks cleared for CBI
The central agency earlier wrote four letters to the chief secretary requesting her office to furnish all relevant material in the case. So far, the CBI has written letters on 31 December, 5, 9, and 11 January and the latest on 6 February. Once it gets details, the CBI will re-register the case and begin its own detailed probe.
Three people — Faridabad/Kerala priest Ramachandra Bharathi alias Satish Sharma, Hyderabad hotelier Nandu Kumar, and Tirupati pontiff Simhayaji Swamy — were already named as accused (A1 to A3) in the case after a complaint was lodged by the BRS MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy, one among the four legislators approached, against them on 26 October, 2022.
The trio was arrested 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 high court.
As per the FIR, Rohith Reddy, the complainant in the case, alleged that the accused offered him ₹100 crore and, in return, the legislator had to leave the TRS — now BRS —and contest as a BJP candidate in the next Assembly election.
They had 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 into the Cash for MLAs case.
What the SIT found
The investigation by the SIT set up by the Telangana government 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 NDA is the ruling coalition at the Centre, helmed by the BJP.
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.