A.P. charges against lawmaker do not require custodial interrogation, says court.
The Supreme Court on Friday decided there is no need for the Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress government in Andhra Pradesh to keep its Narasapuram MP and party’s vocal critic, Raghu Ramakrishna Raju, now accused of sedition, in custody and granted him bail.
A Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and B.R. Gavai, after a hearing, which spanned the better part of the day and extended beyond normal court hours, gave Mr. Raju his liberty back.
The court referred to his bodily injuries highlighted in a medical report prepared by the Secunderabad Army Hospital doctors and the fact that his charges did not require custodial interrogation to rule in his favour. The court said the possibility of ill-treatment cannot be ruled out.
The Army Hospital medical report, which was partially read out in court, showed that Mr. Raju suffered from general oedema, contusions and a toe fracture.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, for Mr. Raju, claimed he was “tortured” in police custody and demanded a CBI probe.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, for Andhra Pradesh, said the injuries “may have been self-inflicted”.
The Bench said Mr. Raju’s public statements against his party and Chief Minister are very much on record. An FIR has already been lodged on the basis of a detailed enquiry by the State CID.
The Bench said the MP deserved bail considering the “totality of the circumstances and his health position”.
The court referred to the fact that Mr. Raju had undergone a heart surgery too.
The court however ordered Mr. Raju not to interact with the media on “any subject which relate to the case”.
Justice Gavai stressed that Mr. Raju should not display his injuries to the media. “We will take it very seriously,” the Bench noted.
The court imposed other conditions including the furnishing of a personal bond of ₹1 lakh and two sureties before the trial court concerned.
Mr. Raju should be given 24-hour notice before questioning. His interrogation should be done only in the presence of his lawyer. Mr. Raju, on the other hand, should not influence witnesses or tamper with the probe.
The registration of a sedition case and arrest of Mr. Raju was not a “knee-jerk reaction”, the Andhra Pradesh government had insisted in the Supreme Court.
Mr. Raju had consistently and deliberately abused his reach and authority as a public person to create disaffection between castes and communities in the State. His words and action had actually triggered violence. His intention was to excite disaffection among the people against the State government, the counsel said.
Mr. Raju had earlier argued that the sedition charges were framed against him only to silence him. The MP, appealed to the apex court to protect his fundamental right of free speech.
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