The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the Telangana High Court, which directed the CBI, investigating the murder of former Andhra Pradesh Minister Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, to provide a written questionnaire in advance to MP Y.S. Avinash Reddy, who is also under the agency's scanner.
The top court said it is really perturbed by the high court order.
During the hearing, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justice P.S. Narasimha orally observed that if this is the standard for investigation, then it is better to wind up the CBI and added that imagine other accused citing this as a precedent.
"First, anticipatory bail. Second, questionnaire by CBI. This is like rewriting criminal law jurisprudence... at the end of it, the CBI may or may not arrest you... the choice is of the investigating agency," the Chief Justice told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Avinash Reddy.
The Chief Justice said if this is the yardstick, then the same written questionnaire will have to apply in all CBI and ED cases. "Look what the high court said, the petitioner shall attend the CBI office, the question and answer shall be in printed written form. Questionnaire may be handed over to the petitioner, why do we need the CBI?"
The top court observed that the high court has misapplied itself and passed an extraordinary order and such orders prejudice the investigation, especially when the CBI is ascertaining the role of several accused.
It termed the high court order unwarranted, while quashing the direction the high court had issued to the CBI. However, the top court said the high court can proceed with the hearing of the anticipatory bail plea of Avinash Reddy on merits.
The bench declined to entertain submissions of advocate Ranjit Kumar, also representing Avinash Reddy, that his client should be protected from arrest for at least 24 hours as the anticipatory bail plea is listed for hearing before the high court on April 25.
The bench remarked that it is really perturbed by the high court order and if the CBI were to arrest Reddy, then they would have done so earlier and it has shown utmost restraint.
It pointed out that the high court had directed Avinash Reddy to present himself at the CBI office between April 19 and April 25 for investigation and a written form of question-answer should be there and also a questionnaire shall be handed over to the accused. "The order of this nature will stultify investigation. The high court cannot order an investigation of a suspect to be in written form...".
On April 21, the apex court had stayed the Telangana High Court order, wherein Kadapa Avinash Reddy was protected from arrest till April 25, observing that the order passed by the high court was "atrocious and unacceptable".
The high court had directed the YSRCP MP to appear before the CBI every day for examination in the murder case of Vivekananda Reddy, and granted him protection from arrest till April 25.
The SC, terming the order passed by the high court "atrocious and unacceptable", issued notice on the plea challenging protection to Reddy.
The plea said the investigation is at a crucial stage where the CBI is investigating the alleged larger conspiracy as directed by this court and for this, the CBI should be allowed to investigate freely without any restriction.
The plea said the high court has practically derailed the investigation process at this crucial juncture without giving due importance to the date of April 30, 2023, by which time the CBI is required to conclude investigation.
Vivekananda Reddy, one of the brothers of the late Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, was found murdered at his residence in Pulivendula in Kadapa district, on the night of March 15, 2019.