Telangana Govt Assails HC Order for CBI Probe Into BRS MLAs ‘Poaching’ Case

The Telangana government on Friday assailed in the Supreme Court the high court’s order for a CBI probe into alleged attempts to poach Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLAs, saying the allegations are against the BJP, which is in power at the Centre and controlling the central probe agencies.

A bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Manoj Mishra adjourned the hearing on the state government’s appeal against the Telangana High Court order till February 27.

The top court heard the brief submissions made by senior advocates Dushyant Dave and Mahesh Jethmalani, who appeared in the matter for the state government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) respectively, before deferring the hearing.

Dave questioned the high court order, saying, “How can the CBI investigate when the allegations are against the BJP? The central government controls the CBI.”

Jethmalani, on the other hand, said the chief minister himself was to blame for this as he had released the details of the police probe in the case to the media, casting a doubt on the independence of the investigation.

“In every CBI, ED investigation against opposition leaders, information is leaked to the media,” Dave said.

“Two wrongs do not make a right,” the counsel for the BJP said.

It is a serious matter affecting the roots of democracy, Dave said, adding that the judiciary is the “only institution which can save democracy”.

On February 7, the state government had sought an urgent hearing in the Supreme Court on its appeal against the high court’s order for the CBI probe.

Dave had said there was an FIR related to “destabilising the state government”.

He had said a single-judge bench of the high court had ordered the CBI probe and a larger bench had upheld it, saying the state government’s appeal was not maintainable.

“There is a grave urgency. If the CBI enters the investigation, everything will fail,” the senior lawyer had said.

A CJI-led bench had said the matter will be taken up for hearing.

Prior to this, a division bench of the high court had dismissed the state government’s appeal against the single-judge order to transfer the probe in the case of alleged attempts to poach four BRS MLAs from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the state police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The larger bench had confirmed the orders passed by the single judge and dismissed a batch of writ appeals filed by the government and others on the ground of maintainability.

On December 26, 2022, the single judge had ordered the transfer of the probe to the CBI.

The high court had also quashed the government order to constitute the SIT and the investigation carried out by it as also a probe conducted by an assistant commissioner of police in the initial stages.

After this, the state government and others had filed the writ appeals against the single-judge order.

However, the division bench of the high court had upheld the orders passed by the single judge and dismissed the appeals. It had also refused to stay its order when the state’s counsel requested for its suspension to enable it to approach the Supreme Court.

The order paved the way for the CBI to proceed with its investigation. The federal agency has already issued letters to the Telangana chief secretary, requesting him to furnish all relevant material in the case.

Three people — Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma, Nandu Kumar and Simhayaji Swamy — were named as the accused (A1 to A3) in the case after an FIR was lodged on a complaint from BRS MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy, one of the four legislators, against them on October 26, 2022.

The three accused were arrested while they were allegedly trying to lure the four MLAs of the ruling BRS in the southern state to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Subsequently, they were granted bail by the high court.

According to a copy of the FIR, Reddy has alleged that the accused had offered him Rs 100 crore and in return, he had to part ways with the TRS (now BRS) and contest the next Telangana Assembly election as a BJP candidate.

The accused had allegedly asked Reddy to bring more BRS MLAs by offering them Rs 50 crore each to join the BJP.

The Telangana government had, on November 9 last year, ordered the setting up of the seven-member SIT to probe the alleged attempts to poach the MLAs.

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