HC orders recovery of pay and perks from MLA for faking caste

Hyderabad: Justice Naveen Rao of Hyderabad High Court has ordered that all the pay and perks paid to Satrucharla Vijayarama Raju during 1999-2004 when he represented Naguru constituency in Srikakulam distrct as an MLA should be recovered since it was proved that he faked his caste certificate and hence disqualified as an MLA.

After his election in 1999, Nimmaka Jaya Raju had filed a petition in AP High Court challenging the election of Vijayarama Raju. The contention of the petitioner was that Satrucharla Vijayarama Raju had contested from Naguru, a reserved constituency for the Scheduled Tribes, claiming that he was born in Konda Dora, an ST, community whereas, in fact, he was born in Kshatriya community. The HC upheld the objection and disqualified Vijayarama Raju from the membership of Assembly. Raju went in appeal to Supreme Court which had granted a stay on the HC judgment.

After hearing arguments on both sides, the SC had decided to confirm the HC judgment. But, between the stay and the final judgment there was a lapse of time during which the MLA’s term was over.

The final judgment was given on October 27, 2005 by a three-member Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India RC Lahoti, Justice CK Thakkar and Justice PK Balasubramanyan. The term of Vijayarama Raju was completed in 2004. But he contested again from Parvatipuram Assembly Constituency in 2009 on the Congress ticket and became a minister. He was Minister of Forest and Environment in YS Rajasekhar Reddy cabinet. He continued in the cabinets headed by K Rosaiah and N Kiran Kumar Reddy.

Vijayarama Raju is a clever politician who changed the parties in a calculative manner according to the wind that was blowing at the time of elections. He was first elected to the Assembly on Janata Party ticket in 1978. He then switched over to the Congress since it was the party that came to power under the leadership of Dr Marri Channa Reddy. Later he moved to Anna TDP headed by Harikrishna. Then he crossed over to the TDP when the party was on the rise. He was elected to Lok Sabha from Parvatipuram constituency thrice on the TDP ticket. Then he switched over to Congress and was considered to be a close follower of YSR.

The original petitioner, Nimmaka Jaya Raju, filed a writ petition praying the HC to recover the pay and perks paid to Satrucherla Vijayarama Raju during the 1999-2004 tenure since he was found to have declared his caste as ST whereas he belonged to the Kshatriya community.

On Monday, Justice Naveen of the HC had ordered that all the pay and perks paid to Raju during that term have to be recovered. It is an established practice in India that election petitions questioning the election of an MLA or an MP are heard for years and by the time judgments came the terms are usually over.

This happened in many cases including that of Satrucharla who successfully completed the term in question and also  contested in elections afterwards and served as a minister for five years. However, a petition being filed for recovery of the salary and perks and a judge ordering to do so has happened for the first time in recent memory.

Needless to say, it is a path-breaking judgment. Senior advocate and former additional Advocate General Satya Prasad had argued the case on behalf of the petitioner.

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