In a relief to jailed and rebel Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress MP K Raghu Ramakrishna Raju, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered his forthwith transfer to the Army hospital at Secunderabad in neighbouring Telangana for medical examination and hospitalisation till further orders in a sedition case filed by Andhra Pradesh police against him.
Raju, who is the Lok Sabha MP from Narsapuram parliamentary constituency in Andhra Pradesh, alleged that the sedition case has been lodged against him by state police 'because of political vendetta' as he has been criticising 'the action of his own party'.
A vacation bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and B R Gavai heard two appeals of the rebel YSR Congress MP and ordered the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh to ensure his transfer to Secunderabad Army hospital during the day itself under Y-category security cover where he would be examined by a team of three doctors to be appointed by the head of the hospital.
The entire medical examination process would be video graphed and supervised by a judicial officer to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court, the apex court said.
The top court, in its order, considered the facts and circumstances that Raju has undergone heart 'by-pass surgery very recently' and his injuries were noticed in the medical report and passed a slew of directions to the state police.
'The petitioner...shall forthwith be taken to the Army Hospital Secunderabad for medical examination. The Y category security, provided under orders of the Delhi High Court, shall escort him only till the Army Hospital and need not be present at the time of medical examination,' the bench said in the order.
The medical examination of Raju shall be conducted by the medical board of three doctors of the hospital to be constituted by the head of the Army Hospital, it said, adding, 'Raju be medically examined in the presence of a Judicial Officer, who may be nominated by the Chief Justice of the Telangana high court.'
'The proceedings of medical examination of Raju shall be videographed and be submitted to the Registrar General of the Telangana High Court in a sealed cover for being transmitted to this court,' the order said.
The top court directed the lawmaker shall be admitted in the hospital and remain there for medical care until further orders, which shall be treated as judicial custody of him and 'the expenses, if any, for hospitalisation in the Army Hospital shall be borne by the petitioner'.
The bench was hearing two appeals, including one by Raju, against the Andhra Pradesh high court order dismissing his bail and asking him to go to appropriate forum for the relief.
In the second appeal, his son K Bharath has sought Raju's medical examination by a private hospital.
The top court asked the state government to file its reply on the appeals by May 19 and posted the matter for further hearing on May 21.
The bench directed the registry that the order be sent through email to the chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh, the high courts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana besides asking the top bureaucrat of the state (AP) to ensure compliance of the order.
During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the YSR Congress MP, said that he was seeking two things -- ad interim bail and his medical examination by a neutral hospital.
Rohatgi said it is a matter of 'some extraordinary proportion' as the sitting MP is critical of the party leadership and the state government for some time.
"The MP is critical of the Chief Minister," he said, adding that last year he had to move the Delhi high court for security as there was threat to his life.
At the outset, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the state, requested the matter be kept for hearing on Friday so that he can file a short reply.
Rohatgi argued there are no allegations that the MP had incited any rebellion.
"The MP is critical of the state government's handling of COVID. Along with him, FIR also names two TV media channels," he argued, adding that section of sedition has been added in the FIR so that the accused cannot get bail.
Rohatgi claimed that the MP was "beaten and tortured" by the police and when he was produced before the trial court, the magistrate had found some injuries on his feet and ordered that he be examined in hospital.
"Today, he should be examined by a private or a neutral hospital or at Army hospital," he said.
Dave said he has no problem if the MP is examined by a medical board.
"Let him be examined at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Mangalagiri," Dave said, adding, "It may not be appropriate to use Army hospital. AIIMS is there".
The bench observed, "Army hospital is not under either the state or the Central government. Army hospital will be a neutral hospital".
Dave said the authorities would take the MP to the AIIMS and if the apex court feels, he could be examined in the presence of a judicial officer.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that he has no objection, if Raju is medically examined at AIIMS, New Delhi or any other government hospital and said that it will not be appropriate if Army hospital is roped in as it a political matter.
On May 15, the CID, which arrested Raju on various charges, including sedition, also named two media houses and "others" as accused in the case.
They were charged under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (statements conducing public mischief) read with 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.