In a big setback for Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao and his BRS party, the Telangana High Court today transferred the ‘poachgate’ case — involving four MLAs of the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi and some individuals accused of being linked to the BJP — to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The High Court also disbanded the state-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was investigating the politically sensitive case. The SIT has said it will challenge the High Court order.
“Our argument was that the SIT cannot carry out an impartial inquiry,” BJP leader and Advocate N Ramachander Rao said, while welcoming the judgement. “The Chief Minister said he had access to all the tapes recorded as part of a sting operation. He held a press conference and made the announcement. In such a circumstance, we felt the probe by SIT cannot be impartial,” he added.
Five petitions were filed asking for a CBI probe. Three by the accused, one by the BJP, and a fifth by a lawyer. The BJP petition was struck down on technical grounds, Mr Rao informed.
“This is a very important order of the High Court. We welcome it,” Mr Rao added.
This comes two months after a farm house in Telangana’s Moinabad was raided and the Cyberabad police claimed to have unearthed a conspiracy to topple the ruling BRS government by ‘buying’ four MLAs for Rs 100 crore each.
Tandur MLA Rohith Reddy, one of those who claimed to have been offered money to switch sides, today said there is an attempt to threaten and intimidate him using central agencies, even though it was so far a state-appointed Special Investigation Team that was probing the ‘poachgate’ case.
Chief Minister KCR has also alleged that the BJP was trying to bring down his government, and his party MLA Mr Reddy was going to the court today asking why the Enforcement Directorate is getting involved with a case that it is not investigating.
The BJP has alleged that the ‘poachgate’ case was stage-managed by the Telangana Chief Minister, and denied any connection with the three accused in the case.
Mr Reddy was called for questioning on December 19 and 20 by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with another case related to money laundering. He has, however, alleged that the ED overstepped and collected his personal details without telling him what case he was called in for on the first day, and told him it was in connection with ‘poachgate’ on the second day.
Earlier in October, following a complaint from Rohith Reddy, an FIR was registered at the Moinabad Police Station.
According to the FIR, MLA Rohith Reddy alleged that they (the four BRS MLAs) were threatened that criminal cases will be filed against them, and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will raid them if they did not join the BJP.