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Andhra ex-official’s bail stayed in mining case

The Andhra Pradesh High Court Friday suspended the grant of bail to former bureaucrat V.D. Rajagopal in the illegal mining case that involves former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhana Reddy and his Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC).

The special court dealing with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases Thursday granted bail to Rajagopal but within three hours, suspended the implementation of its own order till Dec 19 on a petition by the CBI.

The CBI Friday moved the high court, challenging the bail orders, which too stayed the bail to Rajagopal. The final hearing on the CBI plea would be held on Dec 20.

The CBI counsel argued that if released on bail, Rajagola, the former vice chairman and managing director of the state-owned Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC), might tamper with the evidence.

The federal agency also filed another petition in the high court, challenging the special court’s Dec 2 grant of bail to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Y. Srilakshmi. It said the case was at a crucial stage and the official’s release could hamper the investigations.

Srilakshmi was Dec 2 released on bail four days after the CBI arrested her on charges of approving mining leases in violation of rules.

The investigating agency also filed a counter in the special court opposing the bail petitions of Janardhana Reddy and OMC managing director B. V. Srinivasa Reddy. The court has dismissed three bail petitions of the accused since they were arrested by the CBI Sep 5.

In another related development, the CBI submitted to the court Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy’s statement recorded by it in October.

Sabita, who was minister for mines when OMC was granted mining leases, told the CBI that the leases were meant for “captive mining” and this was mentioned in the note file but Srilakshmi, who issued the government order, deleted the word “captive”.

The iron ore OMC was to mine in Anantapur district was meant for a steel factory which Janardhana Reddy was setting up in the state. But as the government order did not mention the words “captive mining”, he exported the illegally mined ore, causing huge losses to the state exchequer, the CBI said.

Sabita’s statement is likely to be used by the CBI to build a case against Srilakshmi.



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