ELURU/VIJAYAWADA : A Bhimadole Magistrate Court on Wednesday sentenced Denduluru MLA and Government Whip Chintamaneni Prabhakar to two years imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs1,000 on him on charges of assaulting former minister Vatti Vasantha Kumar on November 26, 2011. Soon after the judge pronounced the sentence, Prabhakar was granted bail on two personal bonds of Rs10,000 each. With this, the TDP legislator stands disqualified from the Legislative Assembly as per the Supreme Court verdict in the Lily Thomas vs Union of India case.
According to the prosecution, Prabhakar assaulted the then Congress minister Vasantha Kumar during an argument on the dais at a Rachchabanda programme, organised at Denduluru. When the ugly incident took place in full public view, Eluru MP Kavuri Sambasiva Rao was also on the dais. Following a complaint lodged by the minister’s gunman, M Subba Rao, at Denduluru Police station, Prabhakar was arrested the same evening and he secured bail immediately.
The police had filed cases against him under Section 506 of the IPC (punishment for criminal intimidation), Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty), and Section 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from discharging his duty) read with Section 34 of the IPC and Section 7(1) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1932.During final hearing on Wednesday, First Class Magistrate of Bhimadole Deepa Daiva Krupa, while sentencing Prabhakar, gave him one month to file an appeal in a higher court. In the event of his failure to get relief in the higher court, he would be sent to jail, the judge said.
Later, speaking to the media, Prabhakar alleged that the case against him was politically motivated and filed illegally after he questioned the violation of protocol by the then minister and officials. Though cases were filed against 12 others in the same incident, only he was convicted, he pointed out and vowed to challenge his conviction in a higher court.
Prabhakar was first elected to the Assembly on behalf of the TDP in 2009 and later in 2014. He has been in the news off and on for his alleged high-handed behaviour particularly with government officials and police personnel. A police official told TNIE that 42 cases, mostly of assault and the like, are pending against him. Legal experts say Prabhakar not only stands disqualified but also cannot contest elections for six years.
“The apex court verdict makes it clear that if any MP or MLA or MLC is convicted of a crime and awarded a minimum of two years imprisonment, he or she loses the House membership with immediate effect. If two, three cases are filed, usually the court clubs them together and sentences the guilty accordingly,” PVG Umesh Chandra, a Supreme Court advocate, told TNIE.
SC firm on disqualifying convicted netas
The apex court, in the Lily Thomas vs Union of India case in July, 2013, struck down Section 8 (4) of the Representation of People’s Act that used to let MPs and MLAs continue in office even after conviction if an appeal is filed within three months. Section 8 of the same Act says the convicted person shall be disqualified from the date of conviction and continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.