The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday presented a spirited argument in the court that the accusations against former Ministers Dharmana Prasada Rao and P. Sabitha Indra Reddy were “various and enormous”, justifying their pre-trial detention for airing views that they would come out clean in the cases against them related to the Jagan assets case.
The Supreme Court had also justified pre-trial detention, refusal or cancellation of bail in similar circumstances where accusations against the accused were enormous or grave and the quantum of evidence showing that they tried to influence witnesses was satisfying, the special public prosecutor of CBI, K. Surender, told the court during arguments on the investigating agency’s plea to send the ex-Ministers to jail.
Mr. Surender said the former Ministers tried to create a fear psychosis among witnesses who were part of the charge-sheet stating that they had the backing of the then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in whatever they did and that they did not violate any rules. A statement such as “there is no violation of any kind of rule” had the propensity to send “shivers” among witnesses though it would look normal to a third person. The witnesses will not depose before court what they told the investigating officer. This could derail trial.
Their statements contradicted evidence, both oral and documentary, collected by CBI about abuse of power. But for their role, there was no case of quid-pro-quo against Jagan and those who invested in his business. While Prasada Rao facilitated investment by Nimmagadda Prasad in Jagan-owned Jagati publications which resulted in Prasad cornering 18,000 acres of land worth Rs. 1,500 crore, Sabitha Indra Reddy entrusted limestone quarries over 407 hectares in Kadapa district to Dalmia cement which eventually invested Rs. 95 crore in another Jagan company – Raghuram cement.
For issuing illegal government orders, Sabitha Indra Reddy was liable for seven years rigorous imprisonment which could extend to fourteen years on each count of offence.
Earlier, Prasada Rao and Sabitha Indra Reddy filed counter affidavits to the CBI plea stating that their reaction before the media was customary in nature as their names figured in the charge-sheet. It was also aimed against unfair criticism by the Opposition. Moreover, they were out of power by then as their letters of resignation were already with the Chief Minister.