SC Transfers Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy's Murder Case From Andhra Pradesh To Hyderabad CBI Court
The Supreme Court has transferred the trial of the murder of former AP Minister YS Vivekananda Reddy from Andhra Pradesh to Special CBI Court Hyderabad, observing that the apprehensions raised by the wife and daughter of the deceased, that there may not be an independent and fair investigation and that fair trial will be derailed, are reasonable.
The bench of Justice M. R. Shah and Justice M.M. Sundresh observed that justice should not only be done rather it should be seen to have been done and said that "As per the settled position of law, free and fair trial is sine qua non of Article 21 of the Constitution. If the criminal trial is not free and fair and if it is biased, judicial fairness and the criminal justice system would be at stake, shaking the confidence of the public in the system."
In this case, the transfer petition was filed under Article 32 of the Constitution by the daughter and wife of the deceased, who was brutally murdered in his house. The deceased was the cousin of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy and was an opposition leader at the time of the incident. The petitioners apprehended that the star witnesses are having life threat perceptions and that some of the witnesses are already influenced, thereby affecting fair and impartial trial and even further investigation.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra appeared on behalf of the petitioners and submitted that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted and then re-constituted twice, but there was no progress in the investigation. It was also submitted that the High Court, later transferred the investigation to CBI but during the investigation by CBI, the influential people used every means to scuttle the investigation and false complaints were even filed against the officers of the CBI. It was further submitted that conscious efforts were being made to protect the culprits, witnesses were being influenced, they were being killed in a suspicious manner, and were refusing to give statements. It was also submitted that even the evidence at the crime scene were destructed because of the influence of the accused.
Additional Solicitor General of India K.M. Nataraj appeared on behalf of the CBI and supported the case of the petitioners.
Senior Advocate S. Niranjan Reddy appeared on behalf of the State and opposed the transfer petition. Senior Advocates Kapil Sibbal and Guru Krishnakumar appeared on behalf of other respondents and submitted that no real threat perception to either the life of the accused or to the witnesses has been established by the petitioners and that if the petition is transferred, it would have a direct bearing on the right of defence of the accused.
The Apex Court observed that for transfer of a criminal case, there must be a reasonable apprehension on part of the petitioners that justice may not be done to them, the apprehension must not be imaginary and considering the facts and circumstances, it cannot be said that the apprehension is imaginary and has no substance at all.
"….Considering the aforesaid facts and circumstances, it cannot be said that apprehension on the part of the petitioners being daughter and wife of the deceased that there may not be a fair trial and that there may not be any independent and fair investigation with respect to further investigation on larger conspiracy and destruction of evidence at the scene of incident is imaginary and/or has no substance at all. The petitioners being daughter and wife of the deceased have a fundamental right to get justice as victim and they have a legitimate expectation that criminal trial is being conducted in a fair and impartial manner and uninfluenced by any extraneous considerations", said the Court.
The Apex Court further observed that this case was a fit case to transfer the trial, further investigation on larger conspiracy and destruction of evidence to the state other than the State of Andhra Pradesh as the apprehension on part of the petitioner was reasonable and thus, ordered the case to be transferred to the CBI Special Court, Hyderabad.
Accordingly, the Writ Petition was allowed and the CBI was directed to complete the further investigation/investigation in the FIR on the larger conspiracy and destruction of evidence, at the earliest.
Cause Title - Suneetha Narreddy & Anr. v. The Central Bureau of Investigation & Ors.