After the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) court in Hyderabad gave orders late on Wednesday, the Moinabad police took the three accused in the Cash for MLAs case into their custody on Thursday, 10 November, for two days of interrogation, even as the BJP contested the high court order — that lifted the stay on the investigation — later in the day.
The ACB court on Wednesday granted two days’ custody of the three accused to the police though the latter had sought a five-day custody.
The three accused in what is being called the Telangana Cash for MLAs case are Faridabad priest Ramachandra Bharathi, whose roots are in Kasargod in Kerala, Tirupati pontiff Simha Yajulu, and city hotelier Nanda Kumar who is said to have links to BJP leaders.
As directed by the court, the police took custody of the accused at the Chanchalguda prison and took them away.
The police hope to get useful information from them in support of the charges they had slapped on them of attempting to lure four MLAs of the ruling TRS in Telangana by offering one of them ₹100 crore, and ₹50 crore to the other three.
BJP challenges order
Meanwhile, the BJP on Thursday contested the Telangana High Court single judge’s orders lifting the stay on the investigation of the case.
BJP state general secretary G Premender Reddy, in an appeal to the division bench, sought a direction to stop the investigation and annul the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to probe the issue.
He sought an investigation of the farmhouse incident by the CBI or any other investigation agency.
Interestingly, the single-judge bench is hearing his petition for a probe by a Central agency. The appeal to the division bench is for the reversal of the single-judge bench’s orders lifting the stay on the investigation.
Justice B Vijayasen Reddy, while hearing arguments on his petition, adjourned the case to 18 November, after observing that the issue merited exhaustive arguments.
Investigation with SIT
Meanwhile, the probe is now in the hands of a seven-member SIT constituted by the state government. It is being headed by Hyderabad Police Commissioner CV Anand. The police would interrogate the three accused till 5 pm, in the presence of their advocate.
The police argued in the court that they needed the custody of the accused since they had to get to the bottom of the case and identify all those who were acting behind the scenes and what their actual motive was in trying to lure the MLAs to the BJP.
The BJP denied it had any role in the botched poaching attempt.
The counsel for the accused argued that the case was politically motivated and there was no case against them.
He said that his clients had been framed in the case. He reminded the court that the police could not find money anywhere which is a crucial piece of evidence in a case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Case so far
The three men, Ramachandra Bharathi, Nanda Kumar and Simha Yajulu were detained in a raid from a Moinabad farmhouse on 26 October while allegedly negotiating with the MLAs to jump ship.
The MLAs themselves called the police.
The case was registered based on a complaint by one of the four TRS MLAs, Pilot Rohit Reddy, whom the emissaries had targeted.
The police registered the under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 171-B (bribery) read with 171-E (punishment for bribery), and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) read with 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and section 8 of Prevention of Corruption Act.
Besides Rohit Reddy, representing Tandur in the Telangana Legislative Assembly, the accused were in talks with Rega Kantha Rao (Pinapaka), Beeram Harshavardhan Reddy (Kollapur), and Guvvala Balaraju (Achampet).