SC stays proceedings against TRS MLA in bribery scam

SC stays proceedings against TRS MLA in vote-for-note scam

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the criminal proceedings against Telangana Rashtra Samiti MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah in a vote-for-note case related to offering a bribe of Rs 5 crore to a nominated member in the biennial MLC polls in the state in 2015.

A bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari also issued notice to the Telangana government on a petition filed by Veeraiah, against the High Court's order of December 8, 2020.

Senior advocate Kavin Gulati and advocate Devina Sehgal, representing the petitioner, challenged the validity of the HC's order dismissing his revision petition against the Hyderabad court's decision to dismiss the discharge application.

The plea contended the High Court failed to appreciate that the trial court primarily relied upon alleged call recordings between the petitioner and the other accused, Bishop Harry Sebastian. Such electronic evidence can be admissible only when it is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity by the user of the device and other accused cannot be compelled to disclose documents which are self-incriminatory and based upon his knowledge under Article 20(3) of the Constitution, the plea said.

It also contended that the complainant was a nominated MLA and was not bound by any party whip to cast his vote. Secondly, the petitioner and other accused were TDP MLAs at that time. Two SMSs sent to the de facto complainant, Elvis Stephenson by the other accused cannot make the petitioner a party to any conspiracy.

According to the prosecution, Sandra and Udayasimha along with other accused persons A Revanth Reddy, Congress MP and TPCC chief, Harry Sebastian and Mathias Jerusalem, were liable for the offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code.

Senior advocates Sidharth Luthra and Siddharth Aggarwal along with advocate Kumar Vaibhav, appearing for Reddy, MP from Malkajgiri constituency questioned before the top court dismissal of his plea challenging the jurisdiction of the special court Hyderabad. The apex court put his plea for consideration on September September 7.

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