Chennai, Jan 7 (PTI) Tamil Nadu Minister Balakrishna Reddy was Monday sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment by a special court here in a two-decades old riot case related to a protest against illicit liquor in Hosur. Youth Welfare and Sports Minister Reddy, then a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member, was convicted by special judge for cases involving MPs and MLAs J Shanthi in the 1998 case.

The judge, however, accepted a plea of the minister’s counsel and stayed the sentence enabling him to file an appeal in the Madras High Court.

Besides Reddy, who represents Hosur constituency in the assembly, the court sentenced 15 other accused in the case to three years rigorous imprisonment.

All the accused, including the minister, were present in the court.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, the minister said that he would file an appeal in the high court on Tuesday.

“In 1998, over 30 people died after consuming spurious liquor. Following that a road blockade was held and the case was filed in connection with that,” he said.

Reddy faces disqualification as an MLA in view of the conviction unless it is stayed by a higher court.

According to the prosecution, during the demonstration held by the local people in Hosur in Krishnagiri district, about 300 km from here, the protesters allegedly went on a rampage and attacked vehicles, including that of police.

Cases were registered against 108 people, including Reddy for various offences including rioting and causing damage to property.

Reddy had later joined the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and was elected.

The trial, proceeding in a local court, was transferred to the special court set up in September last year following a Supreme Court order to expedite cases against elected representatives.

In its first conviction, the special court had on December 28 held former Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MLA guilty in a rape case and sentenced him to ten years rigorous imprisonment.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.