1. Y.S.Vivekananda Reddy (for short, “the deceased’), the brother of late Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy (former Chief Minister of united Andhra Pradesh) and uncle of Sri Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, present Chief Minister and former opposition leader of Andhra Pradesh, unfortunately met with a mysterious death in his house at Pulivendula, a small town in YSR Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) on the intervening night of 14-15.03.2019 which fact has seen the light of the day along with early Sun on the morning of 15.03.2019. The deceased was a popular figure throughout the length and breadth of the State of A.P. and outside also in his own right as having served as M.L.A. of Pulivendula constituency in 1989 and 1994, as Member of Lok Sabha from Kadapa Parliamentary constituency in 1999 and 2004, as Member of A.P. Legislative Council in 2009. He served as Minister for Agriculture. He was the member of Parliamentary Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests constituted by the Government of India in the year 2005. As such, his gruesome and untimely death, when the elections for the State of A.P. was notified and scheduled to be held on 11.04.2019 in which he was expected by many of his followers to contest, spread quickly like a flame of forest.
2. The facts surrounding his death which were unfolded through Crime No.84/2019 registered by the Police of Pulivendula Police Station on the report given by M.V.Krishna Reddy, who is the Personal Assistant of the deceased are thus:
(a) M.V.Krishna Reddy stated in his report that on 15.03.2019 early in the morning at about 5.30 A.M. he went to the house of deceased, but by then the deceased did not awake. After reading newspaper for half an hour he phoned to Y.S.Sowbhagyamma, the wife of deceased and the petitioner in WP.No.3944/2019 and informed that the deceased did not wake up and so he would wake him up, but she instructed him not to disturb the deceased as he might came home late in the night. After half-an-hour, the cook Lakshmi and her son Prakash came. Then he asked Lakshmi to wake up the deceased as otherwise he would shout at him for delay. Lakshmi came and informed that despite her calling many times, the deceased did not respond. Then, Krishna Reddy also went and called the deceased, but there was no response. Then watchman Rangaiah came and informed that the side door was found opened. Then Krishna Reddy and Prakash went inside and saw that the door of bedroom was also opened. In the bedroom they found about two litres of blood pooled on the ground. However, the deceased was not found there. Then they went inside the attached bathroom where they found the deceased lying on the floor in a pool of blood. When checked, there was no pulse beat. There were injuries on the forehead, back of the head and on the palm of the deceased. Then Krishna Reddy informed Prakash that the deceased was no more and went out and informed to the wife and son-in-law of the deceased by phone. He did not know the cause of the death.
(b) The complaint was given at 8.00 A.M. at Pulivendula Urban Police Station and the same was registered as Cr.No.84/2019 initially under Section 174 Cr.P.C. After inquest, the section of law in FIR was altered to Section 302 IPC.
3. On the orders of the DGP, A.P, vide C.No.171/L&O-III/2019 dated 15.03.2019 a Special Investigation Team (for short, ‘the SIT’) headed by Amit Garg, IPS, Additional DGP, CID was constituted consisting of two SPs, three DSPs and one OSD and others.
4. When the matter stood thus and investigation was in progress, five writ petitions came to be filed with different allegations, but with an identical prayer to entrust the investigation to either CBI or any other independent investigating agency.
5. WP.No.3944/2019 is filed by Y.Sowbhagyamma, wife of deceased, on the allegations that the police authorities initially opined the death of deceased was due to natural causes and it was only after registration of FIR and subsequent inquest, they concluded that it was a murder. When the investigation was under way, the Chief Minister of A.P. and top officials of Police Department hurriedly convened press conference and made reckless statements as if, the family members of the deceased were responsible for his death and constituted a SIT/respondent No.4 who is under the control of the Chief Minister. One Mr. Parameswara Reddy was taken into custody as a suspect by respondent No.4 and it has been learnt that he was in constant touch and talks with members of the ruling party, especially a Minister from Kadapa region, but respondent No.4 has not yet questioned the Minister which cause apprehension that respondent No.4 has been working under the control of Chief Minister.
(a) She filed additional affidavit adding some more grounds to buttress her request for change of investigating agency. She stated that the blood at the scene of offence was erased in the presence of Police officials but they were not added as accused. She also stated that Srinivasa Reddy one of the suspects died in suspicious circumstances by addressing two letters one to Y.S. Bhaskara Reddy and another to Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy alleging Police harassment as the cause of his suicide. He is the close relation of Parameswara Reddy, who was a prime suspect in the murder of deceased. So far, the mystery about his death was not solved. She also stated that the SIT was frequently reconstituted and after Mr. Amburajan took charge as SP, Kadapa, the investigation was slowed down. Finally, she stated that the present Hon’ble the Chief Minister represents Pulivendula Assembly Constituency, in which place the murder of his paternal uncle took place and most of the Police officers are depending on the political leadership for their recommended postings and in that view, it is difficult for them to discharge the duties without fear or favour.
6. The 3rd respondent filed counter opposing the writ petition. It is pleaded that investigation is being carried out in accordance with the procedure contemplated under law. The doubts and suspicions raised by the petitioner are without any basis. He emphasised that the murder is investigated in the angle of financial, personal, political and other aspects connected to the activities of the deceased to establish motive for the offence. It is narrated that 84 witnesses were examined and antecedents of 7 local gangs at Pulivendula, 1461 suspects, 31 persons who involved in high profile cases, 185 jail released persons, 75 hired assassins etc., were verified and still the efforts are afoot to establish the motive for the offence and to bring the real offenders to the book. The investigation carried out by the SDPO, Pulivendula with the assistance of SIT is fair and the apprehensions expressed by the writ petitioner have no factual foundation. Hence, the writ petition may be dismissed.
7. Learned Spl. Public Prosecutor for CBI representing respondent No.6 reported no counter. Learned Assistant Solicitor General representing 7th respondent not filed counter.
8. WP.No.3945/2019 is filed by Y.S.Jaganmohan Reddy, who is the then opposition leader and present Chief Minister of A.P., and he is the nephew of deceased. The writ petition is filed primarily alleging that even when the investigation was in the nascent stage, respondent No.8 who was the caretaker Chief Minister of A.P. addressed the media alleging that the family members of the deceased were responsible for his death which was a result of internal family conspiracy. Serious malafide intentions and actions were attributed to the family members including the petitioner without any basis, only for political gain during the State and general elections. On the next day, respondent No.3, who is the S.P. of Kadapa District, made similar statements in the press meeting. Such statements depict the preconceived and biased nature of investigation. The petitioner addressed a letter to Hon’ble Governor of A.P. requesting to transfer investigation to respondent No.6/CBI. Dismissing the petitioner’s request, respondent No.8 attempted to play down the gravity of incident by referring to some letter, allegedly written by the deceased himself indicating therein that his death was due to the conflict between him and his driver. The SIT is also maintaining the same stand by diluting the seriousness of the offence.
(a) Respondents 1 to 5 not filed counters. Learned Special Public Prosecutor for CBI reported no counter for 6th respondent. Learned Assistant Solicitor General representing 7th respondent not filed counter. Though directed petitioner has not taken personal notice to respondents 8 & 9.
9. WP.No.20224/2019 is filed by M.Ravindranath Reddy @ B.Tech Ravi. The petitioner is a politician belonging to Telugudesam Party and he is currently the Member of Legislative Council for the term 2017-2023. He succeeded against the deceased during the MLC polls of 2017. It should be noted that this writ petition is filed after change in the political scenario of State of A.P. where the ruling Telugudesam Party was defeated and YSR CP was elected and formed Government. It is averred in the writ petition that there was severe political rivalry between the families of petitioner and late Y.S.Rajasekhar Reddy, former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Cases were registered against each other over innumerable number of clashes. It is alleged that respondents 1 to 4 are attempting to implicate the petitioner in the case as he being the political opponent and a prominent leader in Rayalaseema region and for this purpose they are fabricating the evidence. One K.Srinivas Reddy, who was one of the suspects, committed suicide as he was harassed and threatened by investigating officials. No substantial progress was made in the investigation relating to the death of deceased. The police officials are making premeditated and biased statements as if the leaders of the opposition party conspired. A free and fair investigation may not be ensured and hence, the writ petition.
(a) Respondents 1 & 3 filed counters.
(b) The respondent No.1 while opposing the writ petition contended that the petitioner is so far not shown an accused and therefore he has no locus standi to either question the method and manner of investigation or to file the writ petition. The investigation is in the correct lines and so far the SIT examined 62 witnesses and antecedents of 1461 suspects were examined. The apprehension of the petitioner that he may be implicated in the case is baseless.
(c) The respondent No.3 filed counter in similar lines and contended that the petitioner was summoned under Section 160 Cr.P.C and that itself will not create any cause of action for him to question the investigation and to file the writ petition.
(d) Learned Special Public Prosecutor for CBI representing 6th respondent reported no counter. Learned Assistant Solicitor General representing 7th respondent not filed counter.
10. WP.No.21410/2019 is filed by C. Adinarayana Reddy. His version is that his family is actively involved in politics from Jammalamadugu Assembly Constituency of Kadapa District since last 45 years. He was elected as MLA from Jammalamadugu during 2004-2009, 2009-2014 and 2014-2019. During the Assembly elections in the year 2014, he was elected on the ticket of YSR Congress Party from Jammalamadugu Constituency and later, having been not satisfied with the functioning of said party, he joined Telugu Desam Party and served as Minister. It was a cause of grudge for the members of YSR Congress Party. During 2019, he contested for the Kadapa Lok Sabha Constituency against YS Avinash Reddy who is the brother’s son of the deceased and lost the election. Above all, during the MLC elections in 2017, he vigorously campaigned for M. Raveendranath Reddy @ B.Tech Ravi (the petitioner in WP.No.20224/2019) and thereby he was elected with thumping majority against the deceased. All these incidents are the cause of animosity against him from the family members of the deceased.
(a) He further averred, on 15.03.2019 when he was at Vijayawada, the media people questioned him regarding the allegations made by YSR Congress Party members that himself, the former Chief Minister and his son were responsible for the death of the deceased and he refuted the said allegation. One of the suspects Mr. Parameswar Reddy was not subjected to Narco Analysis Test though the other suspects Chandrasekhar Reddy, Gangi Reddy and Krishna Reddy were put through the said Test. One K. Srinivasa Reddy, one of the suspects, allegedly committed suicide. Above all, the petitioner was once examined by the SIT on 12.12.2019 and the way the questions were put to him creates a suspicion that respondents 1 to 5 are attempting to frame the petitioner. Hence, the writ petition.
(b) Respondent No.3 filed counter on behalf of respondents 1 to 6. His counter averments are more or less similar to his counter in W.P.No.20224 of 2019. He contended that merely because a notice under Section 160 Cr.P.C was issued to some persons including the petitioner, that itself will not give any cause of action for him to question the investigation and to file the writ petition.
(c) Learned Special Public Prosecutor for CBI representing 7th respondent reported no counter. Learned Assistant Solicitor General representing 8th respondent not filed counter.
11. WP.No.1639/2020 is filed by Dr. Suneetha Reddy and her husband N. Rajasekhara Reddy who are the only daughter and son-in-law of the deceased. According to the petitioners, Suneetha is the only issue to her parents and owing to his political and other activities, the deceased used to live in Pulivendula whereas her mother was staying with the petitioners for her medical treatment and they used to visit Pulivendula now and then.
(a) Rangaiah the Watchman, Pandinti Rajasekhar, who was looking after the day to day affairs in the house of the deceased, Lakshmi @ Lakshmamma the cook, M.V. Krishna Reddy the Personal Assistant, Prasad the driver, Shaik Inayatulla the Typist-cum-Clerk used to visit the house of the deceased to attend their respective works.
(b) The petitioners projected several suspicious circumstances which according to them create a severe doubt about the veracity of the investigation. Significant among them are:
(1) Inayatulla took photographs of the dead body, the scene of offence, the pool of the blood lying in bed room. Though Krishna Reddy in his complaint mentioned about the presence of pool of blood in the bed room and bath room and also the injuries on the head of the deceased, curiously the Police registered FIR only under Section 174 of Cr.P.C in stead of Sec.302 of IPC. The section of law was altered only after inquest.
(2) While the petitioners reached their house the blood stains in the bath room and bed room were cleaned. They came to know that in the presence and supervision of doctor Y.S. Abhishek Reddy, Dr. Naik and Prakash Reddy the compounder, the dead body was cleaned and bandaged. The dead body was removed from bath room to bed room. All these acts were done by the persons present at the scene of offence and the CI and Constable were also present at that time, but they did not preserve the scene of offence intact. These circumstances casts doubt on some of the persons who are present at the scene of offence who tried to efface the evidence.
(3) Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who was the Leader of Y.S.R. Congress Party attributed doubt against important persons in Telugu Desam Party and demanded transfer of investigation to CBI and in that context he along with his party leaders met his excellency the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and submitted a representation. On account of the mounting pressure, the TDP government constituted a SIT on 15.03.2019 headed by Amith Garg, IPS, Additional DGP, CID to supervise the team consisting of two Superintendent of Police, One Officer on Special Duty and some others. When the investigation was under way, the elections took place and Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy became the Chief Minister. The new government through DGP, Andhra Pradesh reconstituted the SIT vide proceedings Rc.No.266/L&O-III/2019 dated 13.06.2019 with new members. 2 DSPs, 7 Inspector of Police, 8 Sub-Inspector of Police and 6 Constables were made as members of the team. Thus, hierarchy of first SIT was diluted by making Abhishek Mohanty, SP, Kadapa to head the team. Amith Garg, the Additional Director General of Police, CID was totally excluded from the team. One K. Srinivasa Reddy one of the suspects allegedly committed suicide on 02.09.2019 in suspicious circumstances leaving a suicide note. The Post Mortem revealed some injuries on his body and thereby raised a doubt that his was a case of murder. In spite of his death having connection with the death of Vivekananda Reddy, his case was not transferred to second SIT. After the death of Srinivasa Reddy on 02.09.2019, the SIT basing on the instructions of Abhishek Mohanty proposed to examine one Uday Kumar Reddy and Dr. Madhusudhan Reddy and accordingly they were taken to Kadapa for investigation. However, surprisingly while they were on the way to Kadapa, all of a sudden the decision was changed and both of them were sent back to Pulivendula on receiving some phone calls. Till now they were not examined. Few days thereafter, the head of SIT Mr. Abhishek Mohanty went on a long leave and the cause for the leave is not known. Thereafter, the SIT was reconstituted for the third time with new incumbent SP of Kadapa namely K.K.N. Amburajan. So far the third SIT could not get any break through in spite of proclaiming that many witnesses were examined and clues collected. Except arresting the three persons namely Gangi Reddy, Krishna Reddy and Prakash apparently for causing cleaning of blood stains at the scene to offence, none other prime accused was either named or arrested. The SIT is not revealing the progress of investigation to the general public. Since after Amburajan had taken charge, investigation has slowed down.
(4) Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy though initially demanded for CBI investigation and also filed WP.No.3945 of 2019 but after he became Chief Minister did not evince any commitment in that regard and on the other hand diluted the first SIT.
(5) The petitioners have strong suspicion against some persons whose particulars are mentioned in the writ petition.
(6) The murder is still a mystery even after lapse of ten months. Then, TDP and now YSRCP which is in power, do not want to reveal the names of actual offenders. Such non-disclosure of accused at this length of time, speaks volumes of the incompetency and incapacity of state Police.
Hence, the writ petition.
(c) 5th respondent filed counter and 3rd respondent adopted the same by memo. 5th respondent while denying the petition averments, contended that the letter purported to be written by deceased was handed over by 1st petitioner to SDPO at 7:00 P.M., on 15.03.2019 after much deliberations. There was no proper reply for delay in handing over the said letter by the petitioners who were in custody of the letter. The letter was sent to FSL, Mangalagiri for the opinion of Handwriting Expert and the handwriting of the letter was tallied with his standard writings. The letter was sent to CFSL, Hyderabad for second opinion. It is further contended that Prasad, the driver who is the suspect as per the above letter, is continued to be employed by the petitioners. M. Krishna Reddy and Inayatulla were not cooperating with the investigation due to the intervention of the petitioners. It is stated that the investigation is going on in free, fair and unbiased manner. So far the investigation is conducted in all angles i.e., financial, personal and political activities of the deceased to establish the motive for the offence. 104 witnesses were examined and the antecedents of 1461 suspects were verified. The investigation is thus fair and the apprehensions expressed by the petitioners have no factual foundation.
12. Petitioners filed reply affidavit to the counter filed by 5th respondent.
13. Heard arguments.
14. WP.No.3944/2019 & W.P.No.1639/2020: As stated supra, these petitions are filed by the wife, daughter and son-in-law of the deceased respectively. Sri L.J. Veera Reddy, Senior Counsel representing the counsel for petitioners Sri P.Radha Krishna would argue that it is a case of gruesome murder of high profiled person and every circumstance surrounding his murder was mysterious which could not be solved by the 3rd SIT even eleven months after the murder of the deceased. Therefore, it is highly essential in the interest of public as well as bereaved family members to entrust the investigation to an independent and more efficient investigating agency like C.B.I. To buttress his arguments that the change of investigating agency is highly imperative, he projected several circumstances which will be discussed at the relevant stage of the order.
15. In support of his arguments, he placed reliance on the following decisions:
(a) State of West Bengal and others v. Committee for Protection of Democratic rights, West Bengal and others (2010) 3 SCC 571).
(b) Subrata Chattoraj v. Union of India and others (2014) 8 SCC 768)
(c) Mithilesh Kumar Singh v. State of Rajasthan and others (2015) 9 SCC 795)
(d) Neelam Mishra v. Union of India and others (2017) 12 SCC 775)
16. WP.No.20224/2019 & W.P.No.21410/2019:
In addition to the above arguments, Sri .. Basith and Sri … Salman Kursheed the Senior Counsel have argued that since the petitioners are the arch political rivals of the deceased since decades and during the MLC elections in 2017, C. Adinarayana Reddy had vigorously campaigned for M. Raveendranath Reddy @ B.Tech Ravi, and thereby he was elected with thumping majority against the deceased, animosity was nurtured against them by the family members of the deceased and therefore there is every likelihood of petitioners being implicated in the case though they have absolutely nothing to do with the murder of the deceased. Hence, for ensuring fair investigation, an independent agency like C.B.I. is required to be engaged. Mr. Basit would submit that technically speaking the investigation is still in the neonatal stage, as so far, no individual person is either ascribed or arrested by the SIT for his direct involvement in the murder of the deceased except the three accused for their alleged effacing the evidence of the murder. The petitioners are seeking only further continuation of investigation by the C.B.I. rather than denovo investigation. To buttress their argument, they relied upon the following judgments:
(i) K.V.Rajendran v. Superintendent of Police, CBCID South Zone, Chennai and others (2013) 12 SCC 480).
(ii) Karan Singh v. State of Haryana and anothers (2013) 12 SCC 529).
17. The petitioner in WP.No.3945 of 2019 filed a Memo stating that no further orders are necessary in his petition as he does not wish to pursue the same. The Propriety of the above memo will be discussed at the relevant stage of the order.
18. Learned Advocate General addressed common arguments against the batch of writ petitions. While admitting that the constitutional Courts have power to order for CBI investigation without the consent of concerned State Government, he would however vehemently argue that there are no compelling circumstances in any of the writ petitions to change the guard. He would emphasise that except harping that there was delay in investigation, none of the writ petitioners could establish the bias on the part of SIT in investigating the offence. He would submit that irrespective of the political party in Government, the SIT has been honestly and meticulously discharging its duty to nab the real culprits. While emphasizing the commitment of the SIT, he would point out that 104 witnesses were examined and antecedents of 7 local gangs at Pulivendula, 1461 suspects, 31 persons who involved in high profile cases, 185 jail released persons, 75 hired assassins etc., were verified and still the efforts are afoot to establish the motive for the offence and to bring the real offenders to the book. He would point that he is submitting status report of investigation before the Court in a sealed cover for security reasons. He would submit that investigation is in the penultimate stage and within a couple of months there is a possibility to complete the same and file final report. Therefore, at this stage, he would argue, it is not apposite to transfer the investigation to another Agency. He thus prayed to dismiss the writ petitions. He placed reliance on the following decisions:
(i) Sakiri Vasu v. State of U.P. and others (AIR 2008 SC 907)
(ii) Aknuri Kankaraj and others v. State of Telangana and others (2015 (2) ALD (Crl.) 94 (AP)
19. In reply, the counsel for petitioners argued that delay is a crucial factor in this case as it gives scope to the culprits to safely escape from the tentacles of law.
20. Considering the rival arguments and scrutinizing the material placed on record, the point that arises for consideration is:
Whether there exist justifiable grounds to order CBI investigation in Crime No.84 of 2019 relating to murder of Y.S.Vivekananda Reddy?
Srimad Bhagavatham, the sacred treatise which versifies Lord Srimannarayana and his incarnation Sri Krishna, expounds the noble mantra “Satyam Param Dhimahi”. This expression means one should search for absolute truth, not relative truth. The mythological meaning of absolute truth is the Supreme Soul. This conceptual expression has greater significance in justice delivery system too, for, the justice can be rendered only by exploring the ‘absolute truth’ from out of given set of facts. Anything short of absolute truth is reflected in either injustice or incomplete justice. That is why a sacred duty is cast upon the Courts, prosecutors, police, advocates and institutions connected with judiciary to strive to achieve unvarnished truth. In criminal procedural law, the initial task of bringing a real culprit to book rests on police machinery through its investigative procedure. When the State police machinery failed in its task to bringforth the real culprits from the hidden dark for various reasons, whether victim can legitimately seek for entrustment of investigation to a more competitive agency is a moot point.
22. It is interesting to know the Jurisprudence on the subject of entrustment of investigation of a criminal case to CBI, when generally, the State Government by the constitutional scheme of separation of powers between Centre and State holds the subject of law, order and policing and thus empowered to investigate the crime through state police.
23. The CBI traces its origin to the Special Police Establishment, a Central Government Police force, which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India to investigate bribery and corruption in transactions relating to the War and Supply Department of India as the State Police found inadequate to cope up with such offences. Special Police Establishment was established by an executive order. Later, the Delhi Special Police Establishment (for short “DSPE”) Act was enacted on 19.11.1946. This Act makes provision for the constitution of a Special Police Force in Delhi for the investigation in the Union Territories, of offences which are notified by the Central Government under Section 3 of DSPE Act. The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated 01.04.1963.
24. Under Section 5 of the Act, the Central Government may by order extend to any area (including Railway areas) in a State not being a Union Territory, the powers of jurisdiction on members of DSPE for the investigation of any offences or class of offences specified in Notification under Section 3. When such powers are conferred on the member of DSPE, he shall discharge the functions of a Police Officer in that area and shall, while so discharging some functions, be deemed to be a member of Police Force of that area and be vested with powers, functions and privileges and be subject to the liabilities of a Police Officer belonging to that Police Force and such member shall exercise powers of the Officer in charge of a Police Station within the limits of such Station.
25. Section 6 of the Act operates as provisio to Section 5. It says nothing contained in Section 5 shall be deemed to enable any member of the DSPE to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, without the consent of the Government of that State. Therefore, for CBI to investigate into any crime pertaining to a State, the prior consent of that State Government is essential. However, the crucial point germane for consideration is, whether Constitutional Courts can direct CBI investigation in a State crime without the consent of the State Government and if so under what governing parameters. The law is no more res integra.
26. In State of West Bengal (1 supra), a Constitutional Bench of the Apex Court has dealt with this issue. It gave the following conclusions:
(i) Fundamental Rights are inherent and cannot be extinguished by any constitutional or statutory provisions and any law that abrogates or abridges such rights would be violative of the basic structure doctrine.
(ii) Article 21 takes with its fold enforcement of rights of not only the accused, but also the rights of victim. The State has duty to enforce human rights of a citizen providing for fair and impartial investigation against any accused person which may include its own officers. (emphasis supplied).
(iii) The power of judicial review conferred under Article 32 on Apex Court and under Article 226 on the High Courts, which being an integral part of basic structure, no act of parliament can exclude or curtail the powers of the constitutional Courts regarding the enforcement of fundamental rights.
(iv) Restriction on Parliament by the Constitution and restriction on the Executive by Parliament under an enactment do not amount to the restriction on the powers of Judiciary under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution.
(v) When Special Police Act itself provides that the CBI, subject to the consent of the State can take up investigation relating to the crime which is within the jurisdiction of the State police, the Court can also exercise its constitutional power of judicial review and direct CBI to take up investigation within the jurisdiction of the State. Such a power under Article 226 cannot be taken away, curtailed or diluted by Section 6 of Special Police Act. The restriction imposed by Section 6 on the powers of Union cannot be read as restriction on the powers of the constitutional Courts. (emphasis supplied).
(vi) This extraordinary power must be exercised sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional situations where it becomes necessary to provide credibility and instil confidence in investigations or where the incident may have national and international ramifications or where such order may be necessary for doing complete justice and enforcing the fundamental rights.
27. In Subrata Chattoraj (2 supra), which relates to Sarada Chit Fund Multi State Investment Scam, the Apex Court while referring to State of West Bengal’s case (1 supra) and other cases, having observed that apart from the sensitivity of the issues involved, especially interstate ramifications of the scam under investigation, CBI investigation is essential to ensure credibility of investigation in the public perception. The following observation of apex Court is most important which is thus:
The State Police Agency has done the cases and filing chargesheets and bringing those who are responsible to book. The question, however, is not whether the State Police has faltered. The question is who are aggrieved. While we do not consider it necessary to go into the question whether the State Police have done all that it ought to have done, we need to point out that money trail has not yet been traced (emphasis supplied). The collections made from the public far exceed the visible investment that the investigating agencies have till now identified. So also the larger conspiracy angle in the States of Assam, Odisha and West Bengal although under investigation has not made much headway partly because of the inter-state ramifications, which the Investigating Agencies need to examine but are handicapped in examining.
28. In Mithilesh Kumar Singh (3 supra), which relates to death of a fresher due to college ragging in suspicious circumstances, while ordering transfer of investigation from State police to CBI, the Apex Court observed that the decision to transfer rests on Court’s satisfaction that the circumstances of a given case demand such an order. No hard and fast rule can possibly be prescribed for universal application to all cases. The Court must be sensitive to the principle that transfers are not ordered just because a party seeks to lead the investigator to a given conclusion. It is only when there is a reasonable apprehension about justice becoming a victim because of shabby or partisan investigation that the Court step in to exercise its extraordinary powers.
29. In Neelam Mishra (4 supra), which relates to death of a young girl aged 22 in suspicious circumstances, which was tried to be projected as an accident, on the petition of the mother contending that the photographs of the deceased revealed there has been assault with immense brutality which could not be caused by an accident and even the post mortem report did not rule out homicidal assault and there was no proper investigation by the Delhi police, the Apex Court ordered CBI enquiry in spite of the argument of CBI that the Delhi police has taken extreme pains to solve the issue and hence it cannot be found fault. In this context, the Apex Court observed thus:
“4. At this juncture, we make it clear that we do not think that there has been any kind of laxity in the investigation carried out by the Delhi Police, but there can be no doubt that CBI is more equipped and the citizens of this country have faith in its investigating abilities” (emphasis supplied).
30. In K.V.Rajendran (5 supra), the Apex Court in consolidation of earlier judgments held, CBI investigation could be ordered, but such power must be exercised in rare and exceptional cases where the Court finds it necessary in order to do justice between the parties and to instil confidence in the public mind, or where the investigation by the State police lacks credibility and it is necessary for having “a fair, honest and complete investigation and particularly when it is imperative to retain public confidence in the impartial working of the State agencies”. It has further observed that where the investigation was already completed and charge sheet was filed, ordinarily superior Courts should not reopen the investigation and leave it to the Court concerned.
31. In Karan Singh (6 supra), the apex Court happened to discuss about the essential qualities of an Investigating Officer. Expounding, it is stated that the investigation in a criminal offence must be free from objectionable features or infirmities which may give raise to an apprehension to the complainant or accused that the investigation was not fairly conducted. The Investigating Officer must not indulge in any kind of mischief or cause harassment to the complainant or accused and his conduct must be entirely impartial. He is not merely present to strengthen the case of Prosecution with evidence for recording conviction by the Court but he must bring out the real unvarnished truth. It is emphasized by the apex court that ethical conduct on the part of the Investigating Agency is absolutely essential and he must not give scope for any allegations, malafides or bias. In the light of Article 21 of Constitution of India, the duty is cast on Investigating Officer to ensure that an innocent person should not suffer unnecessary harassment of false implication and at the same time, an accused must not be given undue leverage.
32. Then coming to the decisions relied upon by learned Advocate General, in Sakiri Vasu (7 supra), the deceased was a Major in Indian Army and died in Madhura Railway Station, and his father filed an appeal before apex Court when he failed before the High Court to convince to transfer the investigation to CBI. The Court of enquiry held by the Army came to opinion that it was a suicidal death as he was hit by goods train that came from Delhi. However, the appellant would contend that his son was making oral complaints against the rampant corruption in Madhura Unit of Army and he was telling about it to him. Therefore, his was a case of murder. Denying his request, the apex Court observed that material on record did not disclose a prima facie case calling for an investigation by the CBI. Mere allegation of the appellant that his son was murdered because he had discovered some corruption cannot justify a CBI enquiry particularly when enquiries held by Army authorities as well as by GRP at Madhura revealed that it was a case of suicide.
33. In Aknuri Kanakaraj (8 supra), the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad held that for ensuring proper investigation, the Magistrate has power to monitor the investigation under Section 156 (3) Cr.P.C. However, such a power has to be exercised cautiously and with judicious discretion.
34. In addition to the above cited decisions, in Dharampal vs. State of Haryana (2016 (4) SCC 160), the apex Court while ordering CBI investigation underscored the imperativeness of ensuring fair and impartial investigation. It observed that the Constitutional Courts can direct for further investigation or investigation by some other agency as its purpose is that there has to be a fair investigation and a fair trial. The fair trial may be quite difficult unless there is a fair investigation.
35. Thus, the above jurimetrical jurisprudence on the subject can be summed up thus:
(i) Fair investigation and fair trial are avowed objects for justice dispensation. Fair trial wholly depends on fair investigation.
(ii) The Constitutional Courts under their plenary powers conferred under Article 32 and 226 of the Constitution of India, can direct transfer of investigation from the state Police to another investigating agency like CBI etc. even without the consent of concerned State Government.
(iii) Such extraordinary power has to be exercised very sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional circumstances where it is necessary to provide credibility and instil confidence in investigation or where the incident may have national and international ramifications or for doing complete justice and enforcing fundamental rights.
(iv) Not always the unfair, biased and tainted investigation by the state Police should alone be a ground for transfer of investigation to another agency. In a given case the question may be whether what was done by the State Police is sufficient to inspire confidence of those who are aggrieved. Transfer of investigation can be ordered also in cases where despite honest efforts the State Police failed to live up to the expectations and bring the culprits to charge.
With the above legal principles, we have to analyze the facts, attending circumstances and also the investigation thus far carried by the respondent police to come to a conclusion as to whether or not investigation has to be transferred to CBI.
36. As stated supra, except the petitioner in W.P.No.1345 of 2019, the petitioners in other W.Ps have adumbrated various circumstances and endeavoured to project that the murder of a high political and popular person was given a shabby treatment by the police and other concerned and thereby the real assassins could not be identified till now.
37. Firstly, they argued about deliberate shifting of the dead body from bathroom to bedroom and cleaning of pool of blood in those rooms obviously to destroy the valuable evidence and apathy on the part of police though present there. I gave my anxious consideration to this argument. Admittedly, on the early morning of 15.03.2019, on knowing the death of deceased a number of persons including the workers, known persons, Circle Inspector Sankaraiah and Head Constable Ramakrishna Reddy reached the scene of offence. Most of them are educated and worldly wise. However, instead of preserving the scene of offence and keeping the dead body intact, at the instance of some interested persons, the dead body was shifted from bathroom to bedroom and it was cleaned and bandaged. Most importantly the blood which was pooled in the bedroom and bathroom was curiously cleaned neatly, obviously to efface the important evidence relating to murder. The police present there did not evince any interest in preserving the crime scene, but tacitly remained as mute spectators. It is a crucial and costly lapse on the part of police and also the persons present at the dead body at that time.
38. Secondly, it is argued that dead body was deliberately shifted to Government Area Hospital, Pulivendula, where only the inquest was held belatedly, instead of at the scene of offence. It is vehemently argued by the petitioners that the police did not take steps to preserve the dead body at the scene.
This argument is also of immense significance. Had the crime scene was preserved and inquest was held at the spot and clues team was pressed into service, valuable clues could have been obtained. However, it is evident that some interested persons deliberately caused the crucial evidence disappear.
39. The next argument is that though the complaint of M.V. Krishna Reddy clearly shows that the deceased was murdered, however the police registered the FIR under Section 174 Cr.P.C as a suspicious death and only after completion of inquest, they altered section of law to Section 302 of IPC. It clearly shows that the police have not given due importance to the murder of a high profiled person.
A perusal of the record shows, in the report lodged by M.V.Krishna Reddy, he clearly mentioned that approximately two litres of blood was pooled on the floor of bedroom and so also blood was splashed on the floor of bathroom and there were injuries on the forehead, back of the head and on the palm of the deceased. This narration in the report clearly vivifies that it was a case of murder. However, for the reasons best known, the police initially registered the FIR under Section 174 Cr.P.C (death due to suspicious circumstances) and only after completion of inquest altered section of law into 302 IPC. Thus, the gravity of the offence has not been recognized in right perspective at the inception.
40. Fourthly, it is argued that a letter was purported to be written by the deceased as dying declaration naming his driver Prasad as cause for his death. In spite of the same, till now the said Prasad is neither interrogated nor shown as accused. On the other hand, blame is thrown on petitioners as if they still continued him as their driver. When police themselves are still treating him as innocent, there is no other go for petitioners to continue him as their driver. Above all, with the aid of the said letter, no substantial progress could be achieved in the investigation as to whether really the driver Prasad was involved or any other person’s hand was there in the murder.
I find force in the above argument. The record shows a letter purported to be the dying declaration of the deceased, was found in his clothes and the family members have handed it over to police. The deceased allegedly written it stating that since he asked his driver to come early, he beat him severely and hence, he should not be left. The letter was referred to Forensic Science Laboratory, Mangalagiri for opinion of the handwriting expert and the expert opined that the letter was written by the deceased. The letter was referred to CFSL, Hyderabad for second opinion. These facts are mentioned in the counter affidavit filed by 5th respondent in W.P.No.1639 of 2020. Admittedly, the said driver Prasad is still working under the family members of the deceased and the police too did not cast any suspicion against him, despite the fact that the letter was proved to be written by the deceased. In this backdrop, when the letter was written by the deceased, but the contents logically appears to be false, the obvious conclusion is that the assailants might have forcibly got written its contents through the deceased to side track the case. Here an important question would arise, as to why the assailants have specifically chosen Prasad, the driver when a number of persons working under deceased were available and whether the assailants were common enemies of the deceased as well as the driver. Thus, it is not forthcoming as to what gainful investigation could be made with the help of mysterious note.
41. Fifthly, it is argued that even 11 months after murder, the police have not traced the real culprits except arresting the three accused namely (1) T.Gangireddy @ Yarra Gangi Reddy (2) M.V. Krishna Reddy and (3) Yeddula Prakash for the offence under Section 201 of IPC for causing disappearance of the evidence of murder. It shows a total fiasco on the part of 3rd SIT.
This argument appears to be true since though the SIT claimed that the investigation was concentrated in all angles i.e. financial, personal and political activities of the deceased to establish the motive and so far it examined more than 100 witnesses and verified the antecedents of 1461 suspects, still no single accused who is directly involved in the murder of the deceased is either named or arrested.
42. Sixthly, it is argued that one of the suspects K. Srinivas Reddy allegedly committed suicide in mysterious circumstances and real cause is not so far traced and thereby the investigation in Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy’s case also retarded. It is also argued that the persons in the helm of affairs have not shown inclination to entrust investigation of both the cases to SIT for achieving quick progress.
The above argument also holds some water. One K. Srinivas Reddy who is the brother-in-law of Parameswar Reddy is the suspect in this case and he allegedly committed suicide on 02.09.2019 in very intriguing circumstances. He allegedly consumed organophosphate, an insecticide poison and died in his lands at Kusunuru. He seems to have addressed a letter to the Chief Minister Sri Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy stating that he was baffled for being suspected and harassed by the Police. It is argued by the petitioners that the Post Mortem revealed that some quantity of blood was found in the hepatorenal pouch indicating that the collection of blood in the pouch may not be on account of poison but on account of external or internal injuries. His death was registered as Crime No.188/2019 of Simhadripuram Police Station under Section 174 Cr.P.C. Whether K. Srinivas Reddy committed suicide or someone made an attempt on his life so as to shut his mouth permanently from speaking out the facts relating to the murder of deceased is still to be known. At any rate, the death of K. Srinivas Reddy is a mysterious one tightening one more knot to the investigative rope.
43. Seventhly, it is argued that the frequent reconstitutions of SIT and lowering of its constituent cadres without there being any plausible cause, debilitated its tenacity and thereby the investigation is severely hampered.
I gave my anxious consideration to this argument. Since the death was mysterious and the deceased was a VIP, immediately after the murder, the then DGP, vide his proceedings in Rc.No.171/L&O-III/2019 dated 15.03.2019 constituted a seven member SIT headed by Amit Garg, IPS, Additional DGP to assist and guide the investigation. Two SPs including the SP of Kadapa and four DSPs were the members of the SIT. This SIT embarked upon enquiring into political, personal, real estate, dispute settlement activities of the deceased to find out the culprits. While so, after formation of new Government, the DGP vide his proceedings in Rc.No.266/L&O-III/2019 dated 13.06.2019 constituted a second SIT headed by SP of Kadapa. Two DSPs, seven Inspectors, eight Sub Inspectors, four Head Constables and two Constables were the other members of the SIT. It is pertinent to note that the Additional DGP who was heading the previous SIT was not the part of second team. While so, the SP of Kadapa vide his proceedings in C.No. /XV-DSB/KDP/2019 dated 16.10.2019 constituted eight teams with different police personnel of the District and assigned different tasks for furtherance of investigation. Thus a close analysis tells us that initially the investigation was headed by an Additional DGP rank officer and later the investigation was proceeded by SP of Kadapa. In between, the SP of Kadapa was changed and details or reasons for frequent changes of the teams are not forthcoming. However, learned Advocate General would claim that investigation since beginning was conducted by SP of Kadapa and SITs were constituted from time to time only to assist him and therefore, such reconstitutions have no adverse impact on the investigation. The explanation of Advocate General is not fully convincing because the investigating agency has so far not achieved major breakthrough, as none of the masterminded murderers is neither named nor arrested by the police.
44. So on a conspectus, on the substratum of facts and circumstances, what surfaces is that still the mystery shrouded the death of deceased continues, the maze of suspicious circumstances is not pierced and solved and most importantly, the brutal murderers are still at large, hoodwinking the investigators. The investigating agency may claim, nay, legitimately claim that it put all its hardest of hard efforts and given the time, it will nab the offenders. However, the ground reality is otherwise. Eleven valuable months have since elapsed without any fruitful result to solace the bereaved victims. Time is the cruel devourer of valuable possessions including the evidence connecting the culprits to the crime. Further, as already stated, the deceased was a popular politician and served in different capacities as MLA, MLC and MP and as per the investigation reports, the deceased used to settle disputes relating to property issues, real estate affairs and other personal matters of several parties. Due to his multifarious activities, it can be fairly assumed that his death may not be confined to the state of Andhra Pradesh alone but the bloodshed might have been designed and executed through the diabolical forces from outside the state also. As such, the murder may have inter-state ramifications. As philosophized by the Apex Court in Subrata Chattoraj’s case (2 supra), and in E. Siva Kumar vs. Union of India’s case (2018 (7) SCC 365), that whether or not the state police have done all that they ought to have done, is not always a touch stone for continuation of investigation by same investigating agency. Here it i
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s a classic example that in spite of their efforts, the mystery of murder mounts up, murderers make merry and hapless victims weep. Thus, it is imminent and imperative for change of state police investigating agency for betterment of investigation, hoping in terms of Alfred Tennyson’s, the Passing of Arthur: “The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfils himself in many ways”. 45. The individual writ petitions are concerned, the petitioners in W.P.Nos.3944 of 2019 and 1639 of 2020 are the wife, daughter and son-inlaw of the deceased and they are prime victims. Therefore, their writ petitions deserved to be allowed in view of the above circumstances narrated. 46. The petitioners in W.P.Nos.20224 of 2019 and 21410 of 2019 are concerned, nodoubt, admittedly they are political opponents of the deceased. As of now, the investigating agency has not arrayed them as accused. They filed the writ petitions predominantly on the apprehension that in view of their political rivalry with the deceased, they may be implicated in the crime at the behest of their political opponents. Going by the jurisprudence on the issue, the plenary power must be exercised, sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional circumstances to provide credibility and instil confidence in investigation. So far as the present petitioners are concerned, merely because they are political opponents, their implication cannot be readily presumed to change the investigation on that assumptive ground. Therefore, I find no factual and legal justification to allow those two writ petitions. 47. The petitioner in W.P.No.3945 of 2019 is concerned, it must be noted, the deceased being his uncle, he has moral responsibility to see that the culprits are caught, tried and punished as expeditiously as possible. No doubt, to discharge this moral obligation, the petitioner has filed the above writ petition seeking indulgence of CBI within short time after the murder on the main allegation that fair investigation may not be held in view of the prevailing political circumstances. However, recently he filed a Memo submitting that there is no further necessity to pass any orders in this writ petition as he does not wish to pursue the writ petition. The reason assigned by him is, in view of changed circumstances where the previous government was voted out and the investigation no longer being used for such wrong political purposes, the grievance then articulated by him no longer survives. Thus he tries to convince the Court that with the change in the ruling party and his taking reigns of the government, in his perception, there is no threat of investigation being used for wrong political purposes. May be, he is now assured of investigation being not misused for political purposes. However, that is not be all and end all of the issue to abdicate his moral responsibility. The stark reality is that by the date of filing of the memo into Court by the petitioner, the state investigating agency which is under his control, has not arrayed, leaving aside the arrest, even a single accused who is directly involved in the murder of the deceased. In that view, it is left to the wisdom of the petitioner, as to whether filing of memo not pressing the writ petition amounts to moral truancy or not. Be that it may, in our judicial system, except in exceptional cases, the Court cannot prevent a suitor from withdrawing his case. In a suit for partition or a suit for rendition of partnership accounts, if the sole plaintiff proposes to withdraw his suit in the middle, one or some of the defendants in that suit may request the Court to transpose them as plaintiffs and the existing plaintiff as defendant to continue the suit and the Court may accord permission for such transposition because it is trite law that in such type of suits, though some of the parties are arrayed as defendants, still they are entitled to a share in the subject properties. However, that is not the issue in this writ petition. Therefore, the court cannot but allow the memo and permit the petitioner to not press the writ petition. It should be made clear that petitioner’s withdrawal of his writ petition will have no adverse impact on the other writ petitions particularly, W.P.No.3944 of 2019 and W.P.No.1639 of 2020 because the writ petition is sought to be not pressed fundamentally on the ground that due to change in the political circumstances, there can be no apprehension that investigation being misused for political purposes but not on the ground that investigation is completed. It is to be noted that the above discussion is necessitated in the light of argument of the counsel for petitioners in WP.No.3944 of 2019 and W.P.No.1639 of 2020 that permission may not be accorded to the petitioner to not press W.P.No.3945 of 2019 and in case permission is accorded, a finding may be given that such withdrawal will have no adverse impact on their writ petitions. 48. In the result, the W.P.No.3944 of 2019 and W.P.No.1639 of 2020 are allowed and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is directed to conduct the further investigation in Crime No.84 of 2019 of Pulivendula Urban Police Station relating to the murder of Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy and complete the same and file the final report as expeditiously as possible. The State Police and SIT shall handover the investigation in the above crime to CBI at the earliest after completing the formalities. (i)The Writ Petition No.20224 of 2019 and W.P.No.21410 of 2019 are dismissed. (ii) The W.P.No.3945 of 2019 is dismissed as not pressed. There shall be no order as to costs. As a sequel, Interlocutory Applications petitions, if any pending, shall stand closed.