The Telangana High Court on Monday granted conditional bail to the Managing Director of IT Grids firm, D Ashok, who had filed an anticipatory bail for the second time since his arrest. The Hyderabad-based IT Grids has been accused of possessing sensitive data, including personal information of citizens of Andhra Pradesh, and processing it illegally without their consent. Apart from data theft, the IT Grids firm has also been accused of using the beneficiaries data to profile and delete voters from Andhra Pradesh electoral rolls.
Ashok's wife, Sri Lakshmi, is also an accused in the case. The duo had first filed an anticipatory bail in May from the Rangareddy district court but their plea was rejected. They had then moved the Telangana High Court on March but their anticipatory bail plea was rejected. Several notices were sent by the Cyberabad police to the IT Grids MD asking him to surrender or face arrest.
Telangana High Court Justice P Naveen Rao, while hearing the petition in May, had asked the state government and the police to state their stand on the two bail pleas filed by Ashok and his wife.
Following a no-objection response, the high court on Monday granted conditional bail but reportedly only to Ashok. The status of the anticipatory bail plea of his wife is unknown at the moment.
The single bench of the high court, while granting the conditional bail, asked the IT Grids MD to surrender his passport so as to prevent him from leaving the country. He has also been asked to appear before the police on one day every week to assist their investigation into the case. The case is presently being investigated by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
Apart from the possession of the data of Andhra Pradesh state beneficiaries, the firm IT Grids had also developed an app called Seva Mitra, used by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) allegedly to mine data of voters. The app has features that would classify voters based on constituency and booths. Party workers going door-to-door ahead of the Assembly elections were allegedly expected to identify voters at the booth level and enter their data, including caste, political party preference and other personal details. The app also allegedly collected voter data on the number of government schemes a voter avails of and the amount received in state subsidies.
The TDP has denied all charges and has maintained that it is their official application, which is used for communication among the party’s 75 lakh members and to get information about the party’s work.
The Cyberabad police had registered a case against IT Grids on March 2 based on a complaint by T Lokeswara Reddy, a data analyst working with the YSRCP. The case was transferred to the SIT on March 6 for a thorough probe.