Kiran Kumar Reddy keen on bailing out Road and Buildings Minister to ensure survival of his government
Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan may not give in tamely to the Kiran Kumar Reddy government in the unlikely event that it sends back to him the file rejecting the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea for prosecuting Minister for Roads & Buildings Dharmana Prasada Rao.
If the government indeed exercises such an option to salvage its prestige, the Governor may forward the file to the Home Ministry for eliciting the Attorney General's opinion.
The Raj Bhavan believes there is an open and shut case for sanctioning Mr. Prasada Rao's prosecution and that the government has no leg to stand on, going by the Supreme Court’s judgments in the past.
The Governor, who left for New Delhi on Friday morning, is reportedly convinced that the Cabinet has been ill-advised and has, therefore, asked it to seek proper legal counsel. He is said to be in a combative mood and wants the rule of law to prevail.
Broadly speaking, Articles 163 and 166 of the Constitution, respectively deal with the institution of the Governor vis-à-vis the Council of Ministers and the Conduct of Government Business. The Cabinet, in exercise of its powers under these Articles, can send any file to the Governor for a second time leaving the latter no option other than approving it. However, when a member of the Cabinet is charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act, as in Mr. Prasada Rao’s case, the Governor is empowered to take an independent decision.
Finding the Cabinet in a murky situation, Mr. Kiran Reddy held consultations with PCC chief Botcha Satyanarayana on Friday morning to explore ways to wriggle out. He is determined to bail out Mr. Prasada Rao to ensure the very survival of his government as a setback in the case would have far-reaching consequences.
Four other senior Ministers – J. Geeta Reddy, Sabitha Indra Reddy, Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Kanna Lakshminarayana -- are already in the CBI's crosshairs after the Supreme Court ordered notices to be served on them to explain their action in issuing 26 controversial Government Orders during Y.S. Rajasakhara Reddy’s regime. Failure to halt Mr. Prasada Rao's prosecution would open the gates for the trial of these Ministers.
Interestingly, the timing of Raj Bhavan's action and the CBI's memo to the special court on Mr. Prasada Rao's prosecution gave rise to speculation whether they were acting in tandem. However, CBI sources justified its memo on the ground that the government had failed to send its reply for sanction of prosecution within the specified time limit.
Having failed to meet this deadline, the government must act by December 31 when the CBI special court takes up hearing on the CBI’s memo. Otherwise, there is a likelihood of the court ordering certain actions which the government could not initiate.