Cash-for-vote: Court sends TDP MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah to judicial custody


India against corruption

Hyderabad: A city court on Tuesday sent Telugu Desam Party (TDP) legislator Sandra Venkata Veeraiah to judicial custody for 14 days in the cash-for-vote case.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Telangana, which arrested the lawmaker on Monday, presented him before the court on Tuesday.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the judge sent him to judicial custody till July 21. He was later shifted to Cherlapally Jail. The court directed jail authorities to provide him special category status.

The ACB also moved another petition, seeking the legislator’s custody for five days for further questioning while the his lawyer moved a bail application. The court adjourned hearing on both the petitions till Wednesday.

Earlier, the ACB informed the court that the TDP legislator has been included as the fifth accused in the case as there is a strong evidence of his involvement. In a memo filed with the court, the ACB said Veeraiah spoke 32 times to one of the accused, Sebastian Harry, over phone.

The agency also told the court that Veeraiah tried to evade questioning last month by getting himself admitted to a hospital in Rajahmundry in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. It also accused him of trying to influence other accused.

Veeraiah’s lawyer opposed the petition on the ground that the ACB did not take the assembly speaker’s permission before arresting him.

Talking to reporters outside the court premises, Veeraiah said he was arrested under a conspiracy by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government to create problems for the TDP. He said he was not afraid of the false case.

The ACB arrested the legislator on Monday evening after day-long questioning at the ACB office in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad.

He is the second TDP legislator to be arrested in the case.

The agency summoned him for questioning last month too but he failed to respond. He, later, sent a letter to the ACB, seeking 10 days’ time to appear before it, citing ill-health.

Veeraiah represents the Sattupalli assembly constituency in Khammam district of Telangana.

The ACB last month quizzed V. Narender Reddy who was the joint TDP-BJP candidate in the Telangana legislative council elections but he was not arrested.

TDP legislator Revanth Reddy was arrested by the ACB on May 31 while he was offering Rs.50 lakh as a bribe to nominated member Elvis Stephenson reportedly to induce him to vote for Narender Reddy.

The ACB, which laid a trap on a complaint by Stephenson, also arrested two aides of Revanth Reddy.

All the three were granted bail by the Hyderabad High Court last week.

The fourth accused, Jerusalem Mathaiah, is absconding and is believed to be hiding in Andhra Pradesh.