Voter data breach row: Telangana HC rejects IT Grids CEO plea

The Telangana High Court here on Monday dismissed a habeas corpus petition, filed by the CEO of Hyderabad-based IT Grids (India) Pvt. Ltd, in an alleged data theft case after four employees of the company informed the court they had not been arrested by the police.

A Division Bench of Justice R.S. Chauhan and Justice Shamim Akhtar dismissed the plea after Regonda Bhaskar, Phani Kaduluri, Gurudu Chandra Sekhar and Vikram Goud Rebbala told the court they were not in the police custody and that they had only been served notices to cooperate in investigations. The court had on Sunday directed Cyberabad police to produce Bhaskar, Kaduluri, Chandra Sekhar and Rebbala before it after IT Grids CEO D. Ashok filed the plea alleging four of his colleagues had been illegally detained. With Monday being a holiday on account of Maha Shivaratri, the employees were produced before Justice Chauhan at his residence. IT Grids, which provides IT services to Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), is facing allegations of stealing data of 3.70 crore voters from the state government database.

Cyberabad police had on Saturday registered a case against the company on a petition by whistleblower T. Lokeshwar Reddy, who alleged the TDP had provided it data of Andhra Pradesh voters, including their Aadhaar details, colour photographs and mobile numbers.

The complainant alleged IT Grids integrated this voter data with reports of surveys done by the party and uploaded it on Sevamitra, an app for TDP cadres. Reddy claimed the data was being misused for voter profiling and deleting names of non-TDP voters to further the prospects of the party in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. The searches conducted by Cyberabad police at IT Grids office sparked a row between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Cyberabad police also served notice to Ashok asking him to make himself available for investigations. The company CEO is yet to come forward to record his statement.

Meanwhile, a fresh data theft case was registered at the SR Nagar police station against IT Grids on a complaint by Ranga Reddy of the IT cell of the YSR Congress. The YSR Congress alleged the TDP was caught red-handed while stealing the voter data. The TDP, however, has denied allegations and termed the action against IT Grids a conspiracy by the YSR Congress and Telangana’s ruling party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu for the second consecutive day on Monday held a meeting with Advocate General D. Srinivas and Director General of Police R.P. Thakur to discuss developments in the case and the legal action to be taken.

IANS