Telangana Congress war room raid: HC stays cybercrime notices

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Wednesday stayed the 41A CrPC notices issued by the Cybercrime wing of the Hyderabad city police to the Congress war room staffers, Manda Sri Prathap, Shashank Kakineni, and Ishant Sharma.

The police had raided the Telangana Congress war room run by the party’s poll strategist, Sunil Kanugolu, last week for allegedly making defamatory comments about Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and posting the same on social media platforms. Kanugolu was named as the prime accused in the case, along with three who worked for him. Kanugolu is still absconding.

The three Congress employees had moved the High Court pleading that the FIR against them be quashed and that all further proceedings be stayed. Through their counsel, they argued their case by citing the High Court’s earlier rulings in the TRS MLAs poaching case, in which the court had stayed the 41A CrPC notices issued to B.L. Santosh, the BJP national secretary, and others, as precedent.

Senior counsel C.V. Mohan Reddy, representing the petitioners, outlined the reasons for the delay in filing the FIR by the police and elaborated that the police raid on the Congress war room at Inorbit Mall and the filing of the case were malicious and politically motivated, and asked for a stay of the notices.

However, Justice Surender reminded the senior counsel that Santosh, and others were not arrayed as accused in the FIR registered in the poaching case, Therefore, the notices have been stayed.

However, in this particular case, the petitioners were arrayed as accused. Explaining the circumstances surrounding the filing of the FIR, the petitioners’ counsel brought to the attention of the court that the police had carried out the raids due to a parody or spoof of the allegedly offensive video that was clearly superimposed onto the faces of the actors in scenes from the well-known film Maya Bazar. He claimed that the accusations made in the FIR were unrelated to the incident.

State public prosecutor C. Pratap Reddy stated that the petitioners are included as an accused party in the FIR and that all relevant materials were seized in their presence along with their signatures on the panchanama.

The petitioners were required to abide by the 41-A notices since they were named as the accused in the proceedings and material evidence of the alleged offence had already been seized. In light of the arguments made by both parties, the court postponed making any decisions in the matter while staying the petitioners’ notices until the following Friday.

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