New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) In a relief to rebel YSR Congress MP K Raghu Ramakrishna Raju, the Supreme Court Friday granted him bail in a sedition case registered in Andhra Pradesh saying that considering the medical report received from Army hospital, the possibility of his “ill-treatment” in custody cannot be ruled out.
The apex court, while referring to report received from the medical board of Army hospital at Secunderabad, said the MP has fracture in his toe along with swelling.
A vacation bench of Justices Vineet Saran and B R Gavai said charges against Raju are not such which would require custodial interrogation as the statements made are on record and FIR has been lodged after detailed inquiry.
“In our view, considering the report of medical board of the Army hospital, the possibility of ill-treatment of the petitioner (Raju) in custody cannot be ruled out,” the bench said.
“Considering the totality of circumstances and the health of the petitioner, especially that he has undergone heart bypass surgery in December 2020 and the report of medical board, we consider it appropriate to enlarge him on bail,” it said.
The bench directed that Raju shall cooperate in the investigation and shall not speak to any print or visual media on any of the subject related to the case.
“Don’t show any injury mark to the media or it will be viewed seriously,” the bench orally observed and added it was “improper” that Raju had not gone to the Army hospital in an ambulance and instead travelled in his own car.
In its order, the apex court said Raju would be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs one lakh with two sureties of the like amount and he shall present himself for interrogation when called upon by the investigating officer of the case and notice be given to him 24 hours prior to being called for interrogation.
It said Raju shall be permitted to be accompanied by his lawyer, who shall not be present during the interrogation but be seated at a distance.
The bench said Raju shall not influence any witnesses or interfere with the investigation.
On May 17, the top court had ordered forthwith transfer of Raju to the Army hospital at Secunderabad in neighbouring Telangana for medical examination and hospitalization till further orders.
Raju, who is the Lok Sabha MP from Narsapuram parliamentary constituency in Andhra Pradesh, alleged that the sedition case has been lodged against him by state police 'because of political vendetta' as he has been criticizing 'the action of his own party'.
The apex court was hearing two appeals, including one by Raju, against the Andhra Pradesh High Court order dismissing his bail and asking him to go to appropriate forum for the relief.
In the second appeal, his son K Bharath has sought Raju's medical examination by a private hospital.
During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Raju, said that the MP was “tortured” in custody due to which he has sustained injuries.
He said that his allegation of torture is proved by the medical report.
“They are doing this to an MP. If this is happening to a sitting MP, what will happen to an ordinary person,” Rohatgi said, adding, “Please grant him bail and the matter of torture should be investigated by the CBI”.
“This court should take suo motu notice of the injuries and direct the CBI to investigate this,” he said. Arguing that no case of sedition is made out against the leader, Rohatgi said that Raju is a sitting MP of the party and he has been critical of the state government and also the chief minister.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for state, said Rohatgi should not make statements against the chief minister as he is not a party in the matter.
Opposing Raju’s plea seeking bail, Dave said the medical report was inconclusive and does not establish any injury.
Referring to the MP’s statements, Dave claimed that offence of sedition is made out.
Regarding the medical report, he said Raju was medically examined on May 16 and there is X-ray report in which no injury or fracture was there.
Dave argued that the injuries may be “self-inflicted”.
Rohatgi countered this submission and said it would be “absurd” to argue that somebody in police custody can do this to himself.
Senior lawyer V Giri, who also appeared for state, said the high court has initiated suo motu contempt against concerned officers for not taking Raju for medical examination to a private hospital.
Seeking stay on high court contempt action, Giri said the MP was taken to Army hospital pursuant to the apex court order.
The bench said it would not pass any order at present since the high court order was not available yet.
The bench gave liberty to the state to mention before it the matter after high court order is available.
On May 15, the CID, which arrested Raju on various charges, including sedition, also named two media houses and 'others' as accused in the case.
They were charged for alleged offences under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (statements conducing public mischief) read with 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, according to the FIR.
The CID, which registered the case on its own, alleged, 'Sri Raju did not restrict himself to fair criticism of the government but has made every attempt to create hatred, contempt disaffection towards the government.' PTI ABA MNL SJK ABA RKS RKS