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‘Bid to poach’ TRS MLAs: Telangana HC says BJP leader not to be arrested till he receives SIT notice

The notice, issued by ACP B Gangadhar of Cyberabad Police’s Rajendranagar division on November 16, was delivered at Santhosh’s Bengaluru residence. The BJP national general secretary, however, currently resides in New Delhi.

Justice B Vijaysen Reddy directed the SIT to seek Delhi Police help to serve the notice to Santhosh (in pic). (Facebook/B.L. santhosh ji fc)

The Telangana High Court on Saturday directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the alleged conspiracy to poach four TRS MLAs last month not to arrest senior BJP leader B L Santhosh till he receives the probe team’s notice for questioning.

The notice, issued by ACP B Gangadhar of Cyberabad Police’s Rajendranagar division on November 16, was delivered at Santhosh’s Bengaluru residence. The BJP national general secretary, however, currently resides in New Delhi, his lawyers said.

On Friday, the BJP moved court with a plea the SIT notice be quashed. Questioning the notice, BJP counsel senior advocate V Chitamabresh argued that a Division Bench of the HC had already directed the SIT to first submit a report in the alleged conspiracy case by November 29.

Though the notice was not struck down, a bench of Justice B Vijaysen Reddy directed the SIT to seek help from the Delhi Police to ensure Santhosh receives it. It also directed that Santhosh should not be arrested when the notice is served.

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On the government counsel’s submission that the Delhi Police was not cooperating, the court also passed directions for the Delhi Police to comply.

Stating that it has “reasonable grounds” to question him, the SIT has asked Santhosh to be present at the Hyderabad City Police Commissionerate at 10.30 am on November 21. It also cautioned him “not to tamper any evidence…threaten any witness…leave the country”. The notice also directed him to bring a mobile phone used with a particular phone number.

“Failure to attend/comply with the terms of this notice can render you liable for arrest,’’ the notice stated.

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On October 26, the Cyberabad police arrested three persons, who the police said were linked to the BJP, after raiding a farmhouse in Moinabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Police said the three men were caught offering bribes to four TRS MLAs for switching over to the BJP.

In video and audio clips later released by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who accused the BJP of plotting to bring down his government, three men, purportedly the three accused, are heard talking about “Santosh’’. It’s, however, not clear if the person being referred to was B L Santosh.

While the BJP later petitioned the HC seeking probe by an HC-monitored SIT on November 9, the Telangana government formed a seven-member SIT headed by Hyderabad CP C V Anand.

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The SIT has so far issued notices to appear for questioning to Bharati Dharma Jana Sena president Tushar Vellapally at Alappuzha, and one Jaggu Kottilil at Kochi, Kerala.

A Karimnagar-based advocate has also been called for questioning by the SIT.

First published on: 19-11-2022 at 16:57 IST
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