The Andhra Pradesh government over the course of five years from 2014-2018 issued government orders (GOs) to withdraw 21 criminal cases against various Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders. Many of those against whom cases have been withdrawn, are ministers and legislators in the present TDP government and are contesting in the upcoming state elections.
Some of the cases that have been withdrawn include rape and murder charges. All the 21 cases were withdrawn by prosecutors under instructions from the state DGP (Director General of Police). The DGP was instructed to do so through GOs released by the state home department between 2014 and 2018.
A representation to the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) on the large scale withdrawal of criminal cases against public representatives in Andhra Pradesh has been made by Hyderabad based Forum for Good Governance. They have also reached out to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has requested the Election Commission of India (ECI) to take action.
A 2009 case against film star and star campaigner for the TDP, Nandamuri Balakrishna and 10 other TDP members has been withdrawn. The charges levelled on them range from unlawful assembly, trespassing to assault on a public servant.
Balakrishna, the TDP candidate from Hindupur assembly constituency; Kandula Narayana Reddy, the TDP candidate from Markapuram assembly constituency; and Karanam Balaramakrishna Murthy who will be contesting from Chirala assembly constituency, were all accused in the case. The case was withdrawn in April 2015.
Irrigation Minister Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao, Deputy Chief Minister Nimmakayala Chinna Rajappa, Labour Minister Kinjarapu Acham Naidu also have cases of rioting, trespassing, unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and other charges against them. Kinjarapu Acham Naidu was booked under IPC section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty). These cases were withdrawn in December 2016.
Former Kovvur MLA, TV Rama Rao was the main accused in an alleged rape and murder case in 2009. He was briefly arrested after five female students from Kerala who were studying at the TVR college of nursing in Nidadavolu town complained to the state Home Minister and the state Human Rights Commission, that the Ex MLA had tried to sexually abuse them. This case was withdrawn in 2014. Rama Rao resigned from the TDP this year after the Kovvur assembly seat was given to sitting Pakayaraopet MLA Vangalpudi Anita.
Cases of rioting, mischief, wrongful restraint registered against Nakka Ananda Babu, the TDP MLA from Vemuru Assembly constituency of Guntur district, MLA A. Ananda Rao, and M. Shajahan Basha, former MLA from Chittoor district, were also dropped.
Under Article 324 of the Indian constitution, cases registered during the period of elections, including any pending cases for offences related to elections, whether offences under IPC or the Railway Police Act or any other law, should not be withdrawn and all such cases should be pursued and taken to their logical conclusion. The ECI in 2009 had even issued orders to all states with regard to withdrawal of cases.
The Forum, which has made a representation to the CEO, has opined that such blanket withdrawal of cases encourages crimes during elections and creates a feeling that any serious offence booked by the police can be managed. They have requested the ECI to order an inquiry into the cases withdrawn by the AP government.