Days after rebel YSR Congress MP Kanumuru Raghu Rama Krishnam Raju was arrested on sedition charges and tortured in custody, the Supreme Court has granted him bail on Friday (May 21).
As per reports, the case was heard by a vacation Bench of Justices B R Gavai and Vineet Saran. The 2-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court noted that it could not be ruled out that the petitioner was ‘ill-treated’ in custody. They also took into account the fact that he had undergone heart surgery last year. The Court, while granting him bail, barred the rebel YSRCP MP from giving press statements and interviews to the media.
The apex court directed the petitioner to furnish a personal bond of ₹1 lac and provide two securities of the same amount before the trial court within one week. K Raghu Rama Krishnam Raju has also been directed to cooperate with the Investigation Officer (IO) and respond to his summons. The court also told him to refrain from influencing the witnesses.
YSRCP MP was critical of Andhra Pradesh CM
While ordering his bail, the apex court said, “The FIR was lodged only after a detailed inquiry by State CID. Considering the totality of the circumstances and also the health of the Petitioner; especially that he had undergone heart bypass surgery, we deem it just and proper that the Petitioner be enlarged on bail.” It must be mentioned that Raju was arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police on May 14 on the charges of sedition.
The YSRCP had earlier released a video making several allegations against the YSR Congress government. He alleged that the state is under-reporting Covid-19 deaths and the CM was playing with corpses. He said the Jagan govt was trying to make people addicted to alcohol, as the state has not imposed a full lockdown when the neighbouring states have done so. He had even questioned the Andhra Pradesh High Court for not ordering a lockdown in the state.
He had allegedly claimed that Jaganmohan Reddy was going to vaccinate only the Christians and Reddys in the State and sought for the thrashing of volunteers. He was then arrested under sedition charges and attempt to create hatred between two communities. The YSRCP MP had then moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court, seeking relief. However, the High court on May 15 turned down his bail application and asked him to approach the Sessions Court.
Allegations of torture were made by Raju, had sought for relief
While in custody, the sitting MP had alleged that he was tortured and that his arrest was the consequence of a ‘political vendetta.’ He had then moved the Supreme Court on May 17, which directed that the MP be treated at the Army hospital in Secundrabad. The Court had ordered his treatment outside the State given that the Magistrate had noticed injuries on his feet and his past heart surgery.
Arguments in the Supreme Court
On May 21, the apex court read the report submitted by the Army hospital and said that the allegations of torture cannot be ruled out. While granting him bail, it observed that the Andhra Pradesh High Court ought to have granted him bail based on the merits of the case.
Raju was represented in Court by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who argued that the sedition charges were invoked only because it was a non-bailable offence. “This can never be sedition. This only shows that he is outspoken in his criticism against the leadership. This is elementary… Sedition means to create disaffection and to overthrow the government. That is not here,” Mukhul Rohtagi argued.
Dushyant Dave, representing the State, had argued that Raju is a sitting MP and his words carry a certain weight. He also claimed that the sitting MP had inflicted self-harm and argued that the Andhra Pradesh police would not do such a thing to an elected representative. Citing abuse of privilege, he also remarked, “Just because he is an MP, he cannot bypass the high Court and come here directly.”