Tamil Nadu’s Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister P. Balakrishna Reddy, along with 15 others, was convicted and sentenced on Monday by a special court to three years’ imprisonment in a case of unlawful assembly and rioting in 1998 in Bagalur village near Hosur, in Krishnagiri district.
The court later suspended the sentences of the 15 persons, allowing them to appeal before the Madras High Court. Mr. Reddy resigned from the Cabinet later in the day.
Mr. Reddy, 49, was the MLA from Hosur, and began his political career in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He had also served as the chairman of the Hosur municipality.
In 1998, over 150 villagers had gathered in front of the Bagalur police station and indulged in rioting, protesting against police inaction in removing illicit arrack units in the area. Mr. Reddy was part of the group which damaged public transport buses and set fire to police vehicles including a jeep. Police personnel were also injured in the attack.
Mr. Reddy was no. 72 among 102 persons accused in the case. A few of them died during the trial in the Krishnagiri court. Over 87 persons were tried before the trial court and the case was transferred recently to the special court in Chennai, dealing with cases relating to elected representatives.
Pronouncing the judgement in the case, the special judge J. Shanthi said: “Government buses were damaged. A police jeep and motorcyle were gutted in a fire. The court can not take it lightly. These buses are government buses totally estimated to cost ₹85,100. Further all other witnesses also stated that there was unlawful assembly of persons and a riot occurred due to unlawful assembly. The accused disrupted traffic and caused injury to police officials,” she said.
The judge convicted and sentenced 16 persons including Mr. Reddy. The prime-accused Govinda Reddy was given maximum sentence of five years’ rigorous imprisonment under the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act also known as TNPPDL Act. Fifteen others, including Mr. Balakrishna Reddy, were convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
The Minister was found guilty and convicted under sections 147(rioting) and 341(wrongfully restraining any person) of IPC and section 3 of the TNPPDL Act. In addition to handing him three years’ imprisonment for damaging public properties, the court also imposed a total fine of ₹10,500 on him.
The court later suspended the sentences imposed on 15 including Balakrishna Reddy allowing them to appeal before the Madras High Court. After paying fines and executing sureties, they walked out of the court premises.
Mr. Balakrishna Reddy told mediapersons while coming out of the court said he would appeal before the Madras High Court. “This case was registered during DMK regime against us after we protested against illicit arrack in our area,” he added.