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HomeNationApex court transfers Vivekananda Reddy murder trial to CBI court in Hyderabad

Apex court transfers Vivekananda Reddy murder trial to CBI court in Hyderabad

The Supreme Court on Tuesday transferred the murder trial of former Andhra Pradesh parliamentarian Y S Vivekananda Reddy to a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Hyderabad from Kadapa city.

Vivekananda Reddy was the brother of late former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and was a minister in the undivided state. He was allegedly murdered at his residence in Pulivendula on the night of March 15, 2019, weeks before the state assembly elections.

The case was initially investigated by a special investigation team (SIT) of the state crime investigation department, but was handed over to CBI in July 2020, on a direction from the high court based on a petition from the deceased’s wife Sowbhagyamma, daughter N Sunitha and others.

Hearing a plea on Tuesday by Sunitha, a division bench of the Supreme Court justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna ordered that the trial be moved to Hyderabad.

“It cannot be said that the apprehension of the petitioner that there may not be a fair trial or that there is a larger conspiracy is imaginary. Petitioner has the fundamental right to get justice,” the bench said.

In her petition, filed in April, Sunitha said those who are facing charges in the case are filing counter cases against the central investigating agency’s officials alleging harassment. She pointed out that one of the suspects in the case had already died and if the investigation was further delayed, no witness would come forward to depose.

Her petition sought that the Supreme Court monitor every stage of CBI’s investigation as there was a possibility of the accused wiping out the evidence and intimidating the agency’s officials.

Stating that it is a fit case to be transferred to the state other than Andhra Pradesh, the bench said on Tuesday, “If criminal trial is biased, criminal justice will be at stake.”

The bench further ordered that all charge sheets and supplementary charge sheets should be transferred from Kadapa to Hyderabad for ease of witnesses. The first information report (FIR) alleging a larger conspiracy surrounding Reddy’s death and destruction of evidence in the case will be probed by CBI, the court ordered.

CBI has named four people in its charge sheet filed on October 26, 2021 — Yerra Gangi Reddy, Y Sunil Yadav, G Uma Shankar Reddy and Shaik Dastagiri.

Dastagiri, who had worked as a driver for the Vivekananda Reddy, had turned approver four days before the charges were filed and was granted anticipatory bail by a local court in Pulivendula.

In the charge sheet, a copy of which was seen by the HT, CBI has charged the four accused with committing the murder for various reasons, including election-related issues and a land dispute.

Based on the confession statement of Dastagiri, the agency quoted Gangi Reddy claiming that present Kadapa MP Avinash Reddy, his father Bhaskar Reddy and his associate D Shiv Shankar Reddy (deceased) were also involved in the planning for the murder.

However, the trial in Kadapa had made little progress, as some of the witnesses and those facing charges filed private cases against the investigating officers.

Last week, a local court in Pulivendula recorded the statement of Devireddy Tulasamma, the wife of Shiv Shankar Reddy, seeking inclusion of Sunitha’s husband Rajasekhar Reddy and five others in the case.

She alleged that these six people had tried to hide the actual motive behind the murder of the former MP by attempting to conceal the evidence.

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