HYDERABAD: IT was business-as-usual at the Metropolitan Criminal Courts Complex in Nampally on Tuesday. But, the court hall where five persons accused in the Mecca Masjid blast case were acquitted wore a deserted look. The court of fourth Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge(AMSJ) K Ravinder Reddy, who is also the 18th additional chief Judge, had only a couple of advocates seated, lost in their own discussions.
Reddy, reportedly, turned in his resignation soon after pronouncing the verdict. The reports of his resignation though came as a shocker for many, fellow advocates from other courts in the complex claimed ignorance of the development. On the other hand, the 4th AMSJ's section office maintained that he has gone on leave and would return only on April 30th.
Outside the court hall, on the ground floor, hung the cause list for the day. Reddy's name was mentioned as the 4rth AMSJ in charge of the court. The criminal cause list had 54 cases listed for hearing, orders, summons, further evidence, consideration of charges, for arguments etc. Some were bail pleas, where as others include criminal appeal, criminal revisions petitions and even domestic violence case. When asked, the advocates seated at the court hall said the Metropolitan Sessions Judge(MSJ) has not yet handed over the charge of the 4rth AMSJ to any other Judges.
Many believe that the 4rth AMSJ, who was set for retirement in June, would not have taken a hasty decision by putting down his papers. "He is a very sharp man with clear foresight and understanding of happenings around him. I dont think he was under any pressure in the NIA case. The verdict of acquittal in blast case has to be a clear case of lack of evidence," said an advocate at the bar association. "If anyone else is given charge of the Court, proceedings will continue today as usual," said an advocate at the court of 4rth AMSJ, even as a few people waited outside at the verandah.
Meanwhile, Reddy's residence at Prashanth Nagar in SBH Bank Colony in Uppal has been thronged by visitors since Monday night. Reddy, who takes a morning walk across the colony, is known as a friendly and concerned person in the neighbourhood. He is known for leading low-profile life and on Tuesday, many claimed ignorance of developments. The two-storied house with a gate and compound wall restricts vision of what is inside and the residence does not even have a name board.
Police have beefed up security in and around the residence, in view of his judgment in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case. The narrow by-lane with hardly 15 houses including a few apartments had a police patrol vehicle stationed at distance from the judge's house. Visitors were allowed into the house only after seeking a clearance from the Judge.
According to the neighbours, patrolling vehicles were seen making rounds constantly in the residential colony. A sub-inspector and a home guard were stationed outside the residence, while a few Armed Reserve constables were present inside the compound. The efforts to reach out to the judge also failed on Tuesday morning, as he refused to talk.
A grocery store owner who lives near the judge's residence shared, "The police had placed pickets in the entry and exit of the colony on Monday night and patrolling was increased. The judge has been always friendly with the residents of the colony and used to greet everyone during his morning walks." Another resident said "Since morning, the patrol vehicle has changed four places. We were not aware of what was happening. We did not even know that he (K Ravinder Reddy) was the judge who gave the verdict in the blast case."
Uppal inspector P Venkateshwarlu said that they were asked to deploy policemen near the judge's house and keep a close watch on the movements of the people. Malkajgiri DCP Ch R Umamaheswara Sarma said: "There are no specific inputs of threat, but the security is deployed only to ensure that no untoward incident takes place."