Hyderabad: In a major setback to AP Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, a CBI special court at Hyderabad on Friday dismissed his petition seeking exemption from personal appearance during the hearing of disproportionate assets cases.
Concurring with the contentions of the CBI that exemption should not be given to Mr jagan Mohan Reddy from appearing before the court based on the designation and post he hold, the judge rejected Mr Reddy’s petition, saying, “all are equal before the law.” The CBI court reminded the petitioner of earlier HC orders, which had rejected his plea to exempt him from personal appearance.
Mr Reddy had filed a petition before the CBI court in September this year, after he became AP Chief Minister, requesting to allow his counsel to represent him during the trial of the cases, scheduled on Fridays.
CBI insisted on personal appearance
Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy sought exemption on the grounds that he has several responsibilities as Chief Minister and appearing personally in a court situated in Hyderabad and travelling back to Amaravati would “interfere with his discharge of duty.”
At the hearing, the counsel for Mr Reddy informed the court that the Chief Minister’s security protocol would cost up to Rs 60 lakh for each appearance, a burden on state exchequer for making arrangements to enable his personal appearance before the court.
However, countering Mr Reddy’s counsel’s contentions, the CBI filed a counter-petition stating that Mr Reddy was the principal beneficiary in several fraudulent transactions of quid pro quo to his firms, and therefore, his appearance in the court during the trial was necessary.
“The petitioner seeking dispensation of his personal attendance in court on whatever grounds, will virtually entail him to liberate himself from lawful restrictions imposed by the court. Exemption would give him an unsolicited liberty to do whatever he wants and influence witnesses behind the iron walls of political, money and muscle powers,” the CBI argued.
Following hearing of arguments of both parties, the court rejected Mr. Reddy’s petition and ruled that he has to appear before the court in Hyderabad every Friday.
When Mr Reddy got bail in the illegal investments cases filed by the CBI, he was asked to be present before the court during the case proceedings.
In 2017, the Hyderabad High Court had rejected a similar plea by Mr Reddy to be exempt from appearing in the special court. He had pleaded for exemption, citing his duties as a legislator and leader of the opposition. The High Court, however, ruled that he can apply for an exemption on a week-by-week basis.
Mr Reddy has not appeared in court since he became Chief Minister in May 2019....