New Delhi/Hyderabad, May 9 (IANS) YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy will continue to remain behind bars as the Supreme Court Thursday dismissed his bail plea in an illegal assets case, saying his release could hamper the probe into the economic crime.
“Economic offences constitute a class apart and need to be visited with a different approach in the matter of bail,” the court said, and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to complete its investigations in the case in four months.
A division bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice M.Y. Eqbal cancelled the bail of Jaganmohan Reddy’s auditor Vijay Sai Reddy and directed him to surrender by June 5. The judges also rejected the bail plea of accused industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad.
“We feel that at this stage, the release of the appellant (Jaganmohan) would hamper the investigation as it may influence the witnesses and tamper with the material evidence,” the court said.
“…we are of the view that the apprehension raised by the CBI cannot be lightly ignored considering the claim that the appellant (Jaganmohan) is the ultimate beneficiary and the prime conspirator in huge monetary transactions,” the court said.
“An economic offence having deep rooted conspiracies and involving huge loss of public funds needs to be viewed seriously and considered as grave offence affecting the economy of the country as a whole and thereby posing serious threat to the financial health of the country,” said Justice Sathasivam.
“While granting bail, the court has to keep in mind the nature of accusations, the nature of evidence in support thereof, the severity of the punishment which conviction will entail, the character of the accused, circumstances which are peculiar to the accused, reasonable possibility of securing the presence of the accused at the trial, reasonable apprehension of the witnesses being tampered with, the larger interests of the public/state and other similar considerations,” the court said
CBI counsel Ashok Bhan told reporters: “I feel excited. The rule of law has prevailed. The Supreme Court has upheld the rule of law. All rumours floated by the accused are blunted and nailed now.”
He said though the court gave the CBI four months to complete the probe, if necessary, the agency may seek more time to complete the investigations.
During the arguments on the bail petition, the CBI submitted that it may take four to six months to complete the probe.
Bhan said three chargesheets were in the pipeline. “The CBI is doing it as expeditiously as possible,” he said.
Directing the CBI to complete the investigation and file the chargesheet(s) within four months, the court said after this period the three accused would be free to renew their plea for bail before the trial court.
This is the second time that the Supreme Court has rejected the bail petition of Jagan, as the Lok Sabha member from Kadapa is popularly known. The first such plea was dismissed by the court October last year.
The CBI trial court and the high court dismissed Jagan’s bail petitions twice each since his arrest in May last year.
Jagan was arrested by the CBI May 27 last year on charges of amassing huge wealth by doling out favours to individuals and companies who invested in his business when his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was chief minister of Andhra Pradesh from 2004-09. The CBI claimed that the government granted licences, leases and lands to companies on quid pro quo basis.
“The Supreme Court took serious view of this and observed that enriching an individual or a group of individuals is not permissible under law and he has to suffer and remain in jail for some more time,” Bhan said.
On Vijay Sai Reddy, the court quashed the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which upheld the bail granted to him last year by the trial court. The apex court allowed him to attend his daughter’s marriage May 26.
The judges, initially, asked him to surrender by May 30 but on the request by his lawyer, allowed him time till June 5.
The court observed that Vijay Sai Reddy was not an ordinary chartered accountant but the main brain behind the scam.
The CBI, which took up the investigations in 2011 on the orders of the high court, has so far filed five charge sheets and two supplementary charge sheets against Jagan and others.