The Supreme Court has quashed the Telangana High Court division bench order which said that a probe by the state-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the alleged offer of bribes to four TRS MLAs, in a bid to make them join the BJP, will be monitored by a judge of the High Court.
In a November 21 order, uploaded Wednesday on the Supreme Court website, the bench of Justices B R Gavai and Vikram Nath also asked the “single judge… to consider the writ petition(s) filed by” the accused seeking a CBI probe in the matter “on its own merits and in accordance with law, as expeditiously as possible and preferably within four weeks from” the date of its order.
On the ground, the SIT probe continues since the Supreme Court order only quashes the division bench order asking the team to report to the High Court judge.
On Thursday, the SIT filed another memo stating that it is naming Santhosh as an accused in the case. The ACB court has not yet issued any direction.
A day earlier, Justice B Vijaysen Reddy of the High Court had directed the SIT to issue fresh notice to Santhosh to appear for questioning in connection with the case. This direction came after the SIT could not serve its November 16 notice to Santhosh who, party leaders said, was campaigning in Gujarat.
Also Thursday, the ACB court rejected the SIT application seeking custody of three accused – Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma, Nanda Kumar and Simhayaji Swami – for a week. The three men are in judicial custody, after their 14-day remand ran out November 12.
Earlier, the High Court single judge bench had rejected the plea for a CBI probe, against which the accused and the BJP approached the High Court division bench. In its November 15 order, the division bench declined to transfer the probe to the CBI and asked the SIT to report to it. The three accused then approached the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court order.
In its order uploaded Wednesday, the Supreme Court noted that the “senior counsel appearing for the petitioner(s) as well as learned counsel for the respondent-State agree that the matter needs to be reconsidered by the learned single judge on its own merits without being influenced by the observations made by the division bench”.
“Even otherwise, we find that some of the directions which are issued by the learned judges of the division bench are not sustainable in law,” it said.
The Supreme Court also expressed its displeasure at the comments made by the High Court single judge bench in its order asking the three accused to surrender to the police.
The accused were arrested by the Cyberabad police on October 26 on the charge that they attempted to bribe and lure four TRS MLAs to switch over to the BJP.