"This Is A Joke": Supreme Court Furious Over Protection For Andhra MLA Who Smashed EVM

The Supreme Court has barred Ramakrishna Reddy from entering the vote-counting booth in his constituency; in fact, the YSRCP leader was told not to be in the vicinity.

'This Is A Joke': Supreme Court Furious Over Protection For Andhra MLA Who Smashed EVM

The high court had granted interim protection to Pinnelli Ramakrishna Reddy (File).

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court has reacted sharply to grant of interim protection for an Andhra Pradesh MLA who was caught on camera this month destroying an EVM at a polling station in Palnadu district.

In videos widely circulated online, the ruling YSR Congress' P Ramakrishna Reddy - backed by a few equally unruly supporters - was shown barging into a voting booth, grabbing the EVM (electronic voting machine) and VVPAT (voter verified paper trail) off the table, and throwing it to the ground.

That was on May 13. Within days, however, Mr Reddy had received protection in that and associated cases, with High Court Justice Venkata Jyothirmayi's interim orders directing police not to act against the lawmaker till 10 am on Wednesday, a day after the Lok Sabha election results are declared.

Today, though, Supreme Court Justices Arvind Kumar and Sandeep Mehta asked serious questions of the High Court's decision, which they called "complete mockery of the system". The top court also said it was minded to cancel the interim protection, which would have left Mr Reddy open to arrest.

"(How can the court give) interim protection in such cases... if we do not stay this order, it will amount to mockery of the system..." Justice Kumar said after a video of the incident was played.

"Are we being made fun of? This is a sheer joke. How can so many enter a polling booth?"

"It was a live web telecast... the complainant said both EVM and VVPAT were snatched and destroyed... eight people (were) inside the polling booth. Where is the question of bail?" the court raged, adding it was inclined, prima facie, to accept allegations made against the YSRCP leader.

READ | On Camera, Andhra MLA Flings VVPAT To Ground In Polling Booth

"This is not a doctored video... on the face of it..." Justice Mehta commented.

The court also criticised the MLA for remaining hidden till the interim protection order, and also the cops for their response to the shocking incident. "...he is belittling the system. Sitting MLA goes to the polling station, destroys EVM and VVPAT, and complaint is filed about 'unknown person'?"

READ | Andhra MLA Who Smashed EVM Barred From Counting Station

The irate Supreme Court, however, settled for barring Mr Reddy from entering the vote counting booth in his constituency; in fact, the YSRCP leader was told he was not allowed in the vicinity.

And, as a matter of technicality, the Supreme Court ordered the High Court to hear cases registered against Mr Reddy - listed for Thursday - 'without being influenced by the interim protection order'.

Appearing for the lawmaker, senior advocate Vikas Singh stressed his client will comply with the top court's instructions, and urged the bench to allow the High Court to hear the plea as proposed.

The top court was hearing a plea by the opposition TDP's Namboodiri Seshagiri Rao.

Mr Reddy - seeking a fifth consecutive term - was booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Representation of the People Act, and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

Should he be convicted, the MLA could go to jail for a maximum of seven years.

Andhra Pradesh Election Exit Poll Results

Andhra Pradesh held simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls on May 13.

Exit polls have given the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance a big win in the Lok Sabha election.

In fact, ABP News-C Voter, India Today-Axis My India, India TV-CNX, News 24-Today's Chanakya, and Republic Bharat-Matrize, claim the NDA will sweep the state's 25 seats, winning a minimum of 19.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSRCP, which won 22 seats last time, may get no more than eight - and certainly not in the double digit, say exit polls - in this election.

The Congress-led INDIA bloc, counting on strong performances in southern states to offset the BJP's dominance in the Hindi heartland, will not get off the mark, claim 12 exit polls.

READ | PM Hat-Trick, Powered By South, Bengal, Odisha: Exit Polls

Overall, Mr Modi's BJP is strongly tipped to claim a third consecutive term.

All 12 exit polls give the BJP over 300 seats each in a race where the majority mark is 272, and two (India Today-Axis My India and India TV-CNX) even give the saffron party over 400 seats each.

In the Assembly election, ex-Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's TDP could make a surprise return; two of three exit polls give a minimum of 98 and a maximum of 120 seats in the 175-member House.

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