New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the Telangana High Court order directing the CBI, probing the murder of former Andhra Pradesh Minister Y S Vivekananda Reddy, to provide a written questionnaire in advance to YSR Congress Party Lok Sabha member Y S Avinash Reddy who is under the central agency’s scanner.
Terming the high court order “unwarranted”, a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandarchud and Justice P S Narasimha quashed the direction the HC had issued to the CBI.
The top court, however, said the high court can proceed with the hearing of the anticipatory bail plea of Avinash Reddy on merits.
Reddy is a nephew of Y S Vivekananda Reddy and Andhra Pradesh Chief minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s cousin.
It also rejected the vehement submissions of senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Avinash Reddy, that he be protected from arrest for at least 24 hours as the anticipatory bail plea is listed for hearing on April 25 before the Telangana High Court.
“Few minutes back, you wanted to withdraw the plea itself. For us, in a normal case, we would have allowed withdrawal of the anticipatory bail plea and moved on. But in this case we had to say that the high court cannot pass such orders. We were really perturbed by the high court order. If the CBI had to arrest you, they would have done it earlier. The CBI has shown utmost restraint,” the bench said.
The bench said the high court directed that Avinash Reddy present himself at the CBI office between April 19 and April 25 for investigation and the question-answer shall be in written form and that a questionnaire shall be handed over to the accused.
“The order of this nature will stultify investigation. The high court cannot order an investigation of a suspect to be in written form.
“It is completely inappropriate for the high court to order the questionnaire to be given to the first respondent (Avinash Reddy). Such orders prejudice the investigation, especially when the CBI is ascertaining the role of several accused. The directions of the high court were unwarranted and thus the high court order is set aside,” the bench said Earlier on April 21, the top court had termed as “atrocious and unacceptable” the HC order and stayed the protection from arrest granted till April 25 to Avinash Reddy in the murder of Vivekananda Reddy.
The top court had also stayed the high court order directing the CBI to give a questionnaire to Avinash Reddy in connection with the probe. The apex court had also asked the CBI not to arrest Avinash Reddy till Monday.
“Issue notice.There shall be a stay of the impugned directions contained in paragraph 18 of the impugned order of the High Court. However, till Monday the CBI shall not arrest him,” the bench had said while posting the matter on April 24.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by Suneetha Narreddy, daughter Y S Vivekananda Reddy, challenging the high court order.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Suneetha, said the investigation was transferred from Andhra Pradesh to Hyderabad in Telangana due to political patronage being enjoyed by the accused lawmaker.
When the apex court had said it was inclined to stay the high court order, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for Avinash Reddy, said his client was sitting with CBI and may be arrested due to this order.
Vivekananda Reddy, one of the brothers of the late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, was found murdered at his residence in Pulivendula in Kadapa district on the night of March 15, 2019, weeks before the Assembly elections in the state.
The Telangana High Court on April 18 directed the YSRCP MP to appear for examination before the CBI every day and granted him protection from arrest till April 25.
In an interim order on the anticipatory bail plea of Avinash Reddy, the court asked him to cooperate with the central agency and appear before it daily till April 25.
Avinash Reddy filed the anticipatory bail petition in the high court ahead of appearing before the CBI. His father Y S Bhaskar Reddy, uncle of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, was arrested by the CBI on April 16 in connection with the murder of Vivekananda Reddy.
The murder case was initially probed by a special investigation team (SIT) of the state CID but was handed over to the CBI in July 2020.
The CBI filed a charge sheet in the murder case on October 26, 2021 and followed it up with a supplementary charge sheet on January 31, 2022.