Nellore: Lawyers staged a protest outside the court complex in Nellore city on Saturday demanding a probe by the CBI into the theft of court records pertaining to a case in which Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister Kakani Govardhan Reddy is the prime accused.
On the intervening night of April 13 and 14, thieves broke into the court of the 4th additional judicial magistrate of first class in Nellore and stole a bag containing a laptop, mobile phones and several documents related to a 2016 criminal case filed against Govardhan Reddy and three others by the then Agriculture Minister Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy of the TDP.
The theft case acquired a political hue as the main case in question, the material evidence of which has now been stolen and destroyed, is a fight between two TDP and YSR Congress bigwigs of the district.
Police apprehended two “suspects” for questioning in the theft case but so far there appeared to be no breakthrough.
The bag was later found dumped in a culvert outside the court but with the crucial documents and other material evidence missing.
Govardhan Reddy, who was sworn in as a minister only five days ago, remained tight-lipped, even as the opposition parties pointed fingers at him.
Somireddy filed a criminal case of forgery and fabricating documents, besides criminal defamation, against YSRC’s Govardhan Reddy, then an MLA from Sarvepalli Assembly constituency.
Upon establishing forgery, police filed a chargesheet in the court in 2017 and the case was set for trial from May.
The theft of crucial evidence happened against this backdrop.
The TDP, BJP and CPI came down heavily on the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government over the incident and raised suspicion over the possible involvement of the new minister.
They demanded that the Chief Minister react to the theft in the court as his own Cabinet colleague was involved in the case.
Interestingly, Govardhan Reddy has been facing internal strife within the YSRC in his home district.
The Agriculture Minister refused to answer media questions on the court theft case even as the opposition parties demanded action against him.
“The Jagan regime has a dubious record of attacking the judiciary in various ways. The theft of court records is unprecedented in the country and everybody knows who will benefit from it,” TDP senior legislator Payyavula Keshav noted.
He wanted the Andhra Pradesh High Court to take suo motu cognisance of the case and conduct a thorough inquiry.
Irate Nellore lawyers sought protection to the court in the backdrop of the brazen theft of material evidence and demanded a CBI probe to nail the guilty.
When contacted, a senior police official said they were investigating the theft cases from various angles, including the possible role of the minister.
“We had filed the chargesheet and submitted the material objects to the court custody. The court is the custodian of the property,” the police official pointed out.
He said the trial process into the original (criminal) case has to be initiated.