In a setback to senior IPS officer and former intelligence chief of Andhra Pradesh A B Venkateshwara Rao, the Supreme Court on Thursday lifted stay on his suspension by the state government pending inquiry into the allegations of corruption against him.
A division bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice Ajay Rastogi passed the interim orders to this effect after hearing a special leave petition filed by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government challenging the high court order revoking ABV’s suspension.
The Supreme Court granted stay on the state high court’s orders and said the suspension of Venkateshwara Rao will continue till further orders.
The bench agreed with the contention of the state government that revocation of his suspension would impact the investigation into the allegations against him.
The bench served notices on the ex-intelligence chief asking him to submit his explanation within three weeks.
It also asked the state government to give a copy of charge sheet to Venkateshwara Rao so that he could file the counter.
Earlier this month, the SLP filed by the state government came up before the Supreme Court bench of Justice Lavu Nageshwara Rao, but he recused himself from hearing the case. As a result, the case has been transferred to the bench of Justice Khanwilkar.
It may be mentioned that Venkateshwar Rao was suspended on February 8 this year for his alleged irregularities in procurement of security equipment from an Israeli company during the previous Telugu Desam Party regime.
The Jagan government, which entrusted the case to Anti-Corruption Bureau, alleged that the ex-intelligence chief had colluded with an Israeli defence equipment manufacturing firm RT Inflatables Pvt Ltd to illegally award critical intelligence and surveillance contract to his son Chetan Sai Krishna, who is the CEO of Akasam Advanced Systems Pvt Ltd.
The government also alleged that Rao had wilfully disclosed intelligence protocols and procedures of police to the foreign defence manufacturing firm, which was a direct threat to national security as intelligence protocols are standard throughout the Indian Police Force.
Rao challenged his suspension by filing a petition in the Central Administrative Tribunal on February 13.
He contended that the suspension was politically motivated and was done based on frivolous grounds. However, the CAT on March 17 upheld his suspension.
Later, he moved the high court, which had given the judgement in his favour and cancelled his suspension in July. The AP government challenged this order in the Supreme Court.