ACB files chargesheet against accused in cash-for-vote scam

Hyderabad - The investigating agency relied on audio and video evidences in the case that triggered a political battle between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.



By P S Jayaram

Published: Thu 30 Jul 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 30 Jul 2015, 1:43 PM

The Telangana Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has filed an initial chargesheet against deputy floor leader of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the Telangana State Assembly, about two months after the sensational expose of the cash-for-vote scam.
The 25-page chargesheet, citing 39 witnesses and several documents, was filed before a special ACB court in Hyderabad. Besides Revanth Reddy, the chargesheet has also named Bishop Sebastian and Uday Simha as the accused in the case. All the three have been charged under Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
They were arrested on May 31 after being caught red-handed while offering a bribe to a nominated legislator in the Telangana assembly Elvis Stephenson to vote in favour of the TDP candidate V Narender Reddy in the Legislative Council elections. They have since been out on bail.
The ACB officials are expected to file a supplementary chargesheet against the fourth accused in the case, Jerusalem Mathaiah, who has obtained an order from the high court staying his arrest. The ACB arrested another TDP MLA S Venkata Veeraiah but has not yet framed charges against him.
The investigating agency relied on audio and video evidences in the case that triggered a political battle between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The ACB has, in its possession, video tapes on the meeting that Revanth Reddy and his associates had with Stephenson where an advance of Rs5 million was offered to the nominated MLA at an apartment in the city as part of a Rs50 million deal.
The related electronic devices which included audio and video clippings were submitted before the ACB Court. They were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to determine their authenticity. The FSL after verifying the transcripts submitted a report to the court, saying that the tapes were genuine.
Based on a written complaint lodged by Stephenson, the ACB laid a trap and nabbed the TDP MLA and his associates.
A week later, a local television channel, owned by the family members of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, aired a sting operation featuring a phone call purportedly containing conversation between AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Stephenson. This triggered a political storm as Naidu was heard assuring the nominated MLA that all the promises made to him would be honoured.
Naidu and his party leaders alleged that their phones were being tapped by the Telangana government and demanded that telecom operators hand over records of phone-tapping. However, the Telangana government has threatened to sue the telecom companies under the Official Secrets Act, if they released these documents.
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