HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Wednesday allowed the SIT investigating the alleged attempt of the BJP to poach TRS MLAs to issue fresh notices, under Section 41A of the CrPC, to BJP national secretary B.L. Santosh to appear for questioning. However, the court refused to modify the order preventing Santosh’s arrest.
The court further allowed the SIT to send the notices to the BJP member through email, WhatsApp or in person.
In the hearing of the petition filed by the BJP and the ‘poachgate’ accused seeking a CBI probe by Justice Bollam Vijaysen Reddy, the counsel for the SIT and Telangana home department told the court that Santosh failed to appear for questioning and had responded that he was otherwise occupied in poll-bound states.
Advocate General B.S. Prasad requested the court to allow the SIT to take necessary actions as Santosh failed to comply with the notice sent under Section 41A of the CrPC. He said that the court’s permission was being sought, as a mark of respect, as the Supreme Court’s action of setting aside the High Court’s order for monitoring the probe meant that the SIT need not take the court’s permission to initiate action.
Additional Advocate General J. Ramachandra Rao requested the court to modify its November 19 order that directed the SIT not to arrest Santosh until further orders.
“This court has provided protection to him from being arrested, though he personally had not challenged the (notice under) 41-A CrPC. In the given circumstances of violation of the orders, the immunity given to him is to be vacated… Santosh did not respect the notices,” J. Ramachandra Rao said.
The BJP’s counsels, Vaidyanathan Chidambaresh and N. Ramachandra Rao, meanwhile, said they were not empowered to represent Santosh. However, one of the counsels told the court that Santosh may appear later on, even as the SIT continues to demand his immediate appearance.
The court said that the BJP’s state general secretary should take responsibility in the matter and that the court should be informed if Santosh wants to challenge the notices, needed additional time or go for other remedies.
However, the court refused to modify the order preventing Santosh’s arrest, with Justice Reddy questioning how the court could order an arrest without hearing any contention of the notice.
Meanwhile, senior Supreme Court counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the three accused in the case, requested the High Court for a final hearing on petitions filed by his clients, Ramachandra Bharathi, Simhayaji and Nanda Kumar, seeking a CBI probe.
Recalling the Supreme Court order, which stated that the High Court must consider the petitions filed by the accused on its own merits as expeditiously as possible within four weeks, Jethmalani requested a request for the same.
Although not representing Santosh, Jethmalani argued that the SIT was very eager and that Santosh must be given time at least till the end of the Gujarat elections, to appear for questioning.
The court adjourned the case to November 30, for the final hearing on the petitions of the BJP and the three accused....