Late night on Thursday, 27 October, a Ranga Reddy ACB Court refused to remand three persons, who were accused of having allegedly offered bribe to four Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLAs, allegedly luring them to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The police may now have to let the accused – Satish Sharma alias Ramachandra Bharati, Hyderabad businessman Nandakumar, and Simhajayi Swamy from Tirupati – serving them a notice under 41A of CrPC.
Confirming the same, a senior Cyberabad police official told The Quint that, "legal opinion is being sought" to help police take further course of action in the case. The Cyberabad Police also maintained that the court rejected the remand even though there was "ample evidence" against the three accused. However, reportedly, the remand request was rejected as there was no exchange of money in the case.
What Transpired a Day After 'Operation Farmhouse'
The police registered an FIR against the accused in the case on Thursday, based on the complaint lodged by TRS MLA Pilot Rohith Reddy. Reddy had alleged in his complaint that the three accused offered him Rs 100 crore and other incentives including "civic work contracts" and "prominent positions." He also alleged that the accused offered three other MLAs Bheeram Harshavardhan Reddy, P Rega Kantha Rao, and Guvvala Balaraju Rs 50 crore each to join the BJP.
The BJP later rejected both the allegations in media statements issued by its leaders including Union Minister G Kishan Reddy.
The three accused were arrested on 26 October, from a farmhouse in Aziz Nagar, Hyderabad where they had gathered to allegedly meet the four TRS MLAs.
Meanwhile, according to sources close to the investigation into the case, "the police had gathered evidence including video and audio clips in which the accused were vocal about the BJP's alleged offer coming from top leaders including Union Minister Amit Shah and National Secretary (Organisation) JP Nadda." The BJP, however, has denied any alleged connection between the party and the accused. The BJP also filed a writ petition before the Telangana High Court requesting the court to order a fair probe into the "unfair" case which was allegedly filed to tarnish the party's image.
Later on Thursday, the Cyberabad Police produced the three accused before a Ranga Reddy ACB judge requesting that they be remanded. The court rejected the request in a hearing held at the judge's residence on Thursday evening. The police officials present at the hearing refused to divulge the grounds on which the remand was rejected.
Huge Blow to TRS
The remand rejection has come as a huge blow for the TRS as its leaders had issued statements accusing the BJP of corruption and allurement. The TRS cadre had also held protests across Hyderabad, raising slogans and burning effigies, to condemn the BJP's alleged attempt at bribery.
However, on Thursday evening TRS Minister K Taraka Rama Rao asked the TRS cadre not to issue statements on the case, even if they were "provoked" by the BJP. Telangana Chief Minister and TRS leader K Chandrashekar Rao too has been silent on the case.
A TRS source, however, told The Quint that the matter is far from over. "We have enough to prove that there was attempt at bribery. We will come out with it," the leader said. The BJP too has been silent, publicly, on the ACB Court's order that rejected the remand.