The curious case of a former AP minister, who doesn’t admit that he committed fraud 18 years ago

Rama Raju was found guilty of forging documents and winning elections, but the MLA still won’t pay up for his crime.
The curious case of a former AP minister, who doesn’t admit that he committed fraud 18 years ago
The curious case of a former AP minister, who doesn’t admit that he committed fraud 18 years ago

Eighteen years ago, he faked his caste and contested from the Naguru constituency of Andhra Pradesh.

TDP leader Satrucharla Vijaya Rama Raju won the elections in 1999.  He won again in 2004 and went on to become the state’s Forests, Science and Technology minister.

The only problem was this. Rama Raju who was then with the Congress had faked his documents, pretended to be a member of the Konda Dora tribe and contested from a reserved seat.

The Hyderabad High Court had busted his lie and declared his election invalid in 2004.

But more than a decade later, the TDP leader still refuses to pay back the expenses the government spent on him during his invalid tenure.

In 2016, the court asked him cough up Rs 2.25 lakh as reimbursement, but the MLA challenged the judgement. And in more embarrassment (which he is not new to), the HC on Wednesday re-directed him to pay the sum.

In all likelihood the former minister might approach the Supreme Court, given his track record of approaching Supreme Court.

History of the case

In 1999, claiming to belong to the Konda Dora community, Rama Raju contested and won elections from Naguru, a (ST) reserved constituency in Vizianagaram district with 39,726 votes. He served the full five-year-term.

However, later in January, 30, 2004, the candidate from Telugu Desam Party, Nimmaka Jayaraju alleged that Rama Raju belonged to a Kshatriya caste and approached the High court, asking them to nullify his term.

Subsequently, it was proved that Rama Raju had indeed forged documents claiming to be a Konda Dora, and his election was termed invalid.

Notwithstanding the then legal tussle, Rama Raju contested from the neighboring Parvathipuram constituency in 2004. And this time, he contested from a general constituency in Vizianagaram. Since public memory is short, he went on to win the elections and became a minister in former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy’s cabinet.

Dismissing the plea in 2005, the three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice R C Lahoti, Justice C K Thakker and Justice P K Balasubramanyan said, "the appellant wants the best of two worlds. Though he would like to contest from a constituency reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, he would want to lead the life of a forward caste and have the trappings of that caste." (The Hindu had reported).

Following this Rama Raju moved the Supreme Court, which dismissed his appeal and upheld the HC verdict.

In a significant move in 2016, Justice P Naveen Rao said that the AP (SC, ST and BC) Regulation of issue of Community Certificates Act, 1993, does not allow to prosecute errant ones, but directed the government to recover the expenses.

Despite the court’s judgement, the former minister approached the High Court again, challenging the verdict.

However, on Wednesday, a bench comprising Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice J Uma Devi dismissed Rama Raju’s appeal reiterated the earlier judgement, directing him to pay Rs 500 for each Assembly sitting during his term, totalling Rs 2.25 lakh.

Rama Raju is now a TDP leader. After the bifurcation of the state, he jumped from Congress to TDP. However, he lost the 2014 election.

Elections 2023

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