Hyderabad: The Hyderabad High Court on Friday granted an interim stay on a lower court’s order for an investigation against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in a cash-for-vote case.
The common high court for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in Hyderabad directed the Telangana Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to file a counter report on a petition filed by Naidu, seeking quashing of the lower court order.
Justice Raja Elango adjourned the hearing for eight weeks.
The Principal Special Judge for ACB cases on Monday ordered the anti-graft body to thoroughly investigate a petition filed by YSR Congress legislator A. Ramakrishna Reddy. The legislator had sought a probe into Naidu’s role in the case.
The ACB on Tuesday filed a memo in the lower court stating that it would probe and file the report before September whether there was evidence against Naidu, who is the president of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Naidu, in his petition, argued that Reddy had no locus standi in the case. He also said that the ACB had already filed the final charge sheet.
The court heard arguments from all parties. The ACB counsel told the high court that the investigation into the case was continuing.
Revanth Reddy, a TDP legislator in Telangana, in May last year was caught red handed by the ACB offering Rs 50 lakh to nominated legislator Elvis Stephenson to reportedly induce him to vote for TDP candidate Narender Reddy in the elections to the Telangana legislative council.
The ACB, which laid a trap on a complaint by Stephenson, also arrested two aides of Revanth Reddy.
Another legislator Sandra Venkata Veeraiah was also arrested in the case. The agency questioned several others including Narender Reddy.
The case had snowballed into a huge row between the two states when an audio tape of Naidu’s purported conversation with Stephenson was aired by some television channels in June.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) accused Naidu of plotting to topple the government while the TDP alleged that the TRS government illegally tapped the telephones of the Andhra Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues in Hyderabad, the joint capital of the two states.
However, the investigations into the case almost came to a halt later.
Meanwhile, reacting to the high court order on Friday, the TDP described it as a slap on the face of the YSR Congress. TDP leader S. Chandramohan Reddy said the YSR Congress’ conspiracies will not succeed.
The YSR Congress criticised Naidu for moving the court, seeking quashing of the proceedings against him.
YSR Congress chief Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy said it was the first time in the country that a Chief Minister was caught in a cash-for-vote case. He alleged that Naidu was making every attempt to save himself.
Jaganmohan Reddy claimed that Naidu sent party leader and central minister Sujana Chowdary to Delhi to meet central ministers Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu. Chowdary then met Governor E. S. L. Narasimhan in Hyderabad.