On Friday, the CBI court in Hyderabad declined to entertain YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s request for exemption from personal appearance during the trial in the Disproportionate Assets cases. It asked the chief minister to be present in court every Friday during the trial.
The CBI’s argument carried the day inside the court. Its counter petition pointed out that Jagan was “the principal beneficiary in several fraudulent transactions of quid pro quo to his firms and therefore his appearance in the court during the trial was necessary”.
“The petitioner seeking dispensation of his personal attendance in court on whatever grounds, will virtually entail him to liberate himself from lawful restrictions imposed by the court. Exemption would give him an unsolicited liberty to do whatever he wants and influence witnesses behind the iron walls of political, money and muscle powers,” the CBI had argued during the hearing.
It is a strange argument to make because it assumes that ensuring Jagan’s presence in court will mean he cannot “influence witnessess”. Even if he is in court every Friday, how will that prevent Jagan from influencing witnesses should he choose to do so.
Jagan was released on bail from the Chanchalguda jail here in September 2013 after being in prison for 16 months. While granting him bail, the special CBI court had ordered him not to directly or indirectly induce or influence witnesses. He was also told that he needed to be present in court during the proceedings. Which is why he would travel to Hyderabad every Friday.
But ever since he became chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Jagan has been securing exemption on a weekly basis. He is the prime accused in eleven chargesheets filed by the CBI.