Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Friday put a stay on the notice issued to B.L Santosh, the BJP national general secretary, by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted to investigate the poaching of TRS MLAs allegedly by BJP men.
"Prima facie, this court finds the requirements mentioned in the notice issued under section 41A of CrPC against Mr. B.L Santosh missing in the two notices issued to him. This court feels appropriate to stay the issuance of notice dated 23 November 2022 till the next date of hearing, i.e., 5 December 2022," Justice K. Surendar said.
The judge, in his orders, further said, "The requirements under section 41A of the CrPC are complete when the investigating agency cites in its petition that on reasonable grounds, a complaint is made against the noticee. Further, there is reasonable suspicion against the notice…"
In the absence of the above requirement, the notice cannot be issued under section 41A of the CrPC, Justice Surendar said.
Justice Surendar was dealing with a criminal petition filed by Mr. Santosh, BJP national general secretary, seeking a direction to quash the notice issued against him by the Special Investigation Team.
Desai Prakash Reddy, senior counsel appearing for Mr. Santosh, contended that the two notices dated 16 and 23 November lack basic requirements for issuance of notice under section 41A of the CrPC. Hence, the notice is liable to be quashed.
Mr. Prakash Reddy informed the court that Mr. Santosh is nowhere arrayed as an accused in the entire TRS MLA poaching case. There is no complaint against him nor is there any credible information against him and in the absence of such basic requirements as mandated under section 41A of the CrPC, the notice is liable to be quashed, he told the court.
The senior counsel took strong objection to the contention of advocate general Banda Shivananda Prasad who in his arguments informed the court that Mr. Santosh is desperate to wriggle out of this case as the SIT is in possession of voluminous material and crucial information against him which is enough to nail him.
The senior counsel informed the court that the notices issued by the SIT do not mention any suspicion, credible information, or complaint against Mr. Santosh. Then how can the advocate general use such harsh words against Mr. Santosh? he asked.
'Voluminous & incriminating evidence' against BJP leader
Advocate General Banda Shivananda Prasad, appearing for the SIT, informed the court that the SIT is in possession of voluminous and incriminating evidence against Mr. Santosh and his presence before SIT is essential to elicit crucial information on the MLA poaching case.
There is clear evidence that the three accused—Ramachandra Bharati, Nandu, and another person—have made numerous calls to Mr. Santosh to lure the four TRS MLAs into the BJP, the advocate general said in his submission.
He further said the BJP leader is a suspect and is evading his appearance before SIT despite a shielding given by the single judge order which insulates him from being arrested once he appears before the SIT.
Due to the non-appearance of Mr. Santosh before SIT, the investigation has been hampered and in this interregnum, there is every possibility of evidence being destroyed, the AG argued.
Though the AG agreed that the FIR registered at the Moinabad police station does not reflect the name of Mr. Santosh but his role is quite crucial in this issue as he played a pivotal role in TRS MLAs poaching. He has also hatched a conspiracy against the Telangana government to dethrone the government by luring its MLAs into BJP, he further stated.
The AG further referred to the recent Supreme Court order which directed the SIT to go ahead with the investigation stating that the investigation into such cases cannot be scuttled and the non-appearance of Mr. Santosh before SIT will put the investigation in jeopardy.
For further hearing, the matter was adjourned to 5 December.