Andhra high court’s verdict in Congress MP’s murder upheld

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court has upheld an Andhra Pradesh High Court verdict, which convicted one of the two accused while acquitting the other for their alleged roles in the 1995 killing of Magunta Subbarami Reddy, Congress MP from Ongole.

A bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice Cyriac Joseph upheld the 2004 ruling of the high court, which had convicted Pantanagi Balarama Venkata Ganesh for gunning down Subbarami Reddy on Dec 1, 1995 at Ongole and had sentenced him to life imprisonment.

While convicting Ganesh, the high court had acquitted his accomplice Vistaria Prakash, who had allegedly helped the gang of assailants escape the scene of crime in his car. The apex court, however, did not interfere with the high court’s ruling.

The apex court gave its ruling last Thursday on two appeals, one by Ganesh, challenging his conviction and another by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which had probed the sensational broad-daylight assassination of the Ongole MP in his home town. However, the rulings were only released Tuesday.

The CBI had appealed Prakash’s acquittal, but the apex court said: “We are of the opinion that both the appeals are liable to be dismissed. They are dismissed accordingly.”

Reddy, who ran 24 colleges in his state and was known for giving heavy donations to educational institutions, was attending a function at Markapur near Ongole Dec 1, 1995, when five men stormed in and shot both the MP and his gunman Chaudhary Venkataratnam. Both succumbed to their injuries in hospital the same day.

However, in the exchange of fire between the MP’s gunman and the assailants, Ganesh too had sustained a gunshot injury and was arrested by the police the same day along with his weapon and the blood-stained pink shirt that he was wearing during the attack.

The CBI, which probed the crime, made eight people accused in the case, but could arrest only Ganesh and Prakash, who were put on trial.

Though the trial court convicted both and sentenced them to life imprisonment, the high court acquitted Prakash owing to the lack of clinching evidence against him.

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