Mecca Masjid blast case: Cloud over NIA judge linked to his ‘hasty’ bail order in land dispute case

The inquiry was being conducted by the Registrar (Vigilance) of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, based on a complaint filed by a litigant who wanted “a thorough inquiry to be conducted to know the corrupt practices” of the judge.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad | Updated: April 19, 2018 7:27:56 am
Mecca Masjid blast case: Cloud over NIA judge linked to his ‘hasty’ bail order in land dispute case Special NIA judge Ravindra Reddy who delivered the Mecca Masjid Verdict. (ANI photo)

The surprise resignation of NIA court judge K Ravinder Reddy two days ago, hours after he acquitted the five main accused in the Mecca Masjid blast citing lack of evidence, comes amid an ongoing inquiry by the High Court on a complaint that he showed “undue haste” in granting anticipatory bail to an accused in a land dispute case.

The inquiry was being conducted by the Registrar (Vigilance) of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, based on a complaint filed by a litigant who wanted “a thorough inquiry to be conducted to know the corrupt practices” of the judge.

The complaint, filed on December 11, 2017, stated that Reddy, the Fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions court judge, issued the bail order when he was in charge for just two days — December 4 and 5 — of the Seventh Additional Metropolitan Sessions Court.

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In the complaint filed before the Registrar through Advocate T Sriranga Rao, litigant Krishna Reddy claimed that the judge went against “settled practice” by granting relief to the accused whose five previous attempts at obtaining anticipatory bail from various courts had failed.

“On December 4, the Public Prosecutor was not present as she was on leave and (the) Judge was seriously interested in hearing (the) matter and asked for incharge Public Prosecutor to come and present (the) argument… the case (was) heard on December 5 and bail was granted on the same day even though (the) petitioner did not disclose any of the petitions filed by him earlier and orders passed in those petitions,” the complaint stated.

The complaint stated that “generally the procedure adopted… is to hear the case and post for orders next day”. But the judge chose to pass the orders on the same day, the complaint stated.

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“It is submitted that the curiosity shown by the Learned Judge in taking up the bail petition on war footing itself is sufficient to arrive at a conclusion that he was eager and highly interested to dispose it of, for the reasons best known to him,’’ it stated.

“I state that it is the settled practice that the incharge officer only takes up urgent matters like remands or extension of remands, etc., but never seen a judge made incharge for two days hearing an anticipatory bail in such a hurried manner…,” it stated.

When contacted by The Indian Express, High Court Registrar C Manavendranath Roy said he could not disclose any information without the permission of the Chief Justice. Judge Reddy’s official residence was found locked and calls to him went unanswered.

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Records show that Krishna Reddy, a resident of Banjara Hills, had lodged a complaint at the local police station in June 2016 against 10 persons (FIR 1020/2016) for allegedly fabricating and forging documents to claim his property.

On July 6, 2017, police added the name of one G P Reddy as the main accused in the FIR.

According to the documents, G P Reddy filed a series of bail pleas at various courts:

* On July 7, 2017, he filed a plea with the third additional chief metropolitan magistrate’s court. While the hearing was pending, he filed another petition in the High Court seeking quashing of proceedings against him. But the High Court dismissed the petition with Justice T Sunil Chowdary directing police to follow established procedure.

* G P Reddy filed another petition in the High Court, which was dismissed on August 2, 2017, by Justice Dr B Siva Sankara Rao who directed police to continue investigations.

* On August 9, G P Reddy filed a fresh petition for anticipatory bail before the seventh additional metropolitian sessions court. “My advocate pointed it out to the court during hearing that G P Reddy did not disclose that he also filed a petition in the HC. He withdrew the petition on August 23 and also withdrew his petition in HC,’’ Krishna Reddy stated in his complaint.

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* Dismissing yet another petition filed by G P Reddy for anticipatory bail, the Seventh Additional Magistrate Sessions Judge observed that as the investigation was still pending, it was a not a fit case to grant bail.

* On November 24, 2017, G P Reddy filed another anticipatory bail application in the same court. On November 30, the judge was transferred and the ninth additional metropolitan magistrate sessions judge was in charge temporarily of the court. But the judge went on leave on December 4 and 5, and Reddy was made in charge of the court.

Speaking to The Indian Express, the complainant’s advocate T Sriranga Rao said, “The Chief Justice had directed the Registrar to conduct a probe against Ravinder Reddy through the Vigilance Department three months ago after we filed the petition. The probe is still going on. The judge was in charge of the additional magistrate sessions court No.9 for two days and he granted bail in undue haste. He ignored specific orders issued by the High Court while dismissing the anticipatory bail applications filed by the petitioner. The High Court dismissed the anticipatory bail applications three times and the seventh additional magistrate sessions judge dismissed it twice but he granted bail.’’

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The latest complaint comes in the wake of three presiding officers in the lower judiciary facing action based on complaints filed against them, including one by Rao.

On April 13, the Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested the first additional metropolitan sessions court judge S Radhakrishna Murthy and two advocates for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 7.5 lakh to grant bail to an accused on November 1, 2017 in a narcotics case.

The arrest followed a complaint filed by Advocate Rao against the judge following which the High Court directed the ACB to register a case of bribery under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1998.

On April 8, the ACB arrested a first additional junior civil judge under the Prevention of Corruption Act based on complaints received by the High Court from an advocate.

On March 13, based on another complaint filed by another advocate, the ACB arrested a judicial officer at Labour Court-I in Hyderabad for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to known sources of income.

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On Monday, 11 years after a blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad killed eight persons and injured 58, the NIA special court under judge Reddy acquitted the five main accused, including Swami Aseemanand, stating that “the prosecution could not prove its case” because “no evidence was presented to prove the conspiracy”.

Hours after he delivered the verdict, Reddy put in his papers. In a letter to the metropolitan sessions judge and Chief Justice of the High Court, Reddy said he was resigning due to personal reasons.

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