Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu may be in trouble as a forensic report submitted to an Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) court in Hyderabad on Wednesday 'confirms' his involvement in the cash-for-votes case.
The forensic report from labs in Mumbai and London were released by YSRCP MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, the chief petitioner in the plea to re-investigate the case.
The court on Monday ordered a fresh investigation into the over a year old cash-for-votes case in response to the petition.
Meanwhile, Naidu has brushed off the latest developments.
"What's new? Nothing. My lawyer will look into it," Chandrababu said in Vijaywada on Tuesday evening when asked about the court's order.
While the opposition is armed with the forensic report (A copy of which is with The News Minute) that states that the voice in the phone call is "similiar" to Naidu's voice, reports suggest that the report may not hold up in court.
Quoting legal experts, Sudhakar Reddy for Deccan Chronicle reported that these reports would only help the petitioner support his plea to seek investigation and ACB couldn’t rely on them to proceed against Naidu.
The reports adds that Naidu cannot be implicated unless the ACB submits the voice sample collected with the court's permission to the AP Forensic Science Laboratory or the Central Forensic Science Laboratory or any private FSL.
Speaking to DC, NIA special public prosecutor P. Vishnuvardhan Reddy, said "The Code of Criminal Procedure Code clearly lays down the rules for seizure of any evidence including voice samples...In this case, a forensic report was obtained by a private individual with samples collected from his known sources, it is not valid. If the investigation agency has failed to collect samples and send it to the FSL, private individuals may file a petition in the High Court or trial court seeking a direction to the investigating agency to collect the material as per the procedures and take the case forward.”
Meanwhile, the ACB has told the court that it was investigating the role of all those involved in the cash-for-votes case.
The Times of India reported:
The ACB also said that the plea of YSRCP MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy for adding AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu as accused in the case and the contents of the FIR in the case are one and the same. At a time when the YSRCP MLA is seeking the addition of Naidu as accused in the case, the ACB's fresh statement that this is not a new contention and that they are already investigating the same matter goes to show that they are actually probing the role of the AP CM, legal analysts say.
The case had created enough political shocks for the Telugu Desam Party in Telangana last year.
In May 2015, nominated MLA in Telangana Assembly Elvis Stephenson lodged a complaint alleging that he was offered Rs 5 crore by TDP MLA Revanth Reddy to vote for TDP nominee in the election to the Telangana Legislative Council on June 1.
On May 31, ACB arrested Revanth Reddy, Bishop Sebastian Harry and Rudra Udaya Simha when they were allegedly handing over an advance sum of Rs 50 lakh to Stephenson.
A charge-sheet filed by the ACB on July 28 last year mentioned TDP chief Naidu's name, but not as an accused.
An audio tape of Naidu's purported conversation with Stephenson over phone on May 30, a day before the ACB arrested Revanth, found its way to the media.
Naidu in return accused the TRS Government of illegally tapping phones, as the audio was first broadcast on T News, a media outlet owned by the ruling TRS.
The YSRC MLA has now submitted to the court a forensic lab report "confirming" that the voice in the tape was that of Chandrababu Naidu.
In the latest memo submitted by the ACB in court, the bureau stated that it would soon file an additional chargesheet in the case.
The TOI report adds that the ACB judge also issued summons to three accused - Revanth Reddy , Harry Sabastian and Rudra Udaya Simha, directing them to appear before the court on September 29.
The court has sought an investigation report by the end of September.
In a separate development, the Hyderabad High Court on Wednesday issued a bailable warrant against Elvis Stephenson, the complainant in the cash-for-votes case, for contempt of court.
Inputs PTI and IANS