The Judge of a CBI court here, T. Pattabhirama Rao, who was suspended by the High Court on Thursday, and his son, are likely to be arrested in the cash-for-bail episode involving mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy in the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) scandal.
The suspension order against Mr. Rao was slapped on Thursday after a meeting of the collegium of High Court judges, presided over by Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur, with a rider that he should not leave the city till the completion of inquiry against him. The CBI, which has taken up a parallel inquiry is likely to register an FIR against him, his son and five others to prosecute them with the permission of the High Court.
Sources said Mr. Rao had demanded Rs.15 crore for the grant of bail to Mr. Janardhan Reddy in the OMC case in which he was arrested by the CBI at Bellary on September 5. The relatives and followers of Mr. Janardhan Reddy initially bargained with Mr. Rao for payment of Rs.5 crore but a deal was finally struck for Rs.10 crore. An advance of Rs.3 crore was delivered to Mr. Rao before the judgment was delivered on May 11 and the balance was to be paid later. A portion of the amount was said to have been recovered by the CBI from two lockers of a nationalised bank in the name of his son at Ashok Nagar here. It was said that a Minister from Rayalaseema region, who is a relative of Mr. Janardhan Reddy and a retired district judge from Guntur, played a key role in the mediation with the suspended judge. The retired judicial officer and a rowdy-sheeter of Nacharam here, Yadagiri, were part of the team that approached Mr. Pattabhirama Rao. Both were said to have been questioned by the CBI sleuths four days ago after they got wind of the scam.
Mr. Pattabhirama Rao had granted bail to Mr. Janardhan Reddy when the case was transferred to him as the Principal Court presided by A. Pullaiah was closed for summer vacation. The bail was given on May 11 on furnishing a personal bond for Rs.5 lakh and two sureties of similar sum, though a similar request of Y. Srilakshmi, IAS officer suspended in the illegal mining case, was rejected.
Incidentally, Mr. Janardhan Reddy's brother and Bellary MLA G. Somasekhara Reddy and his followers were present in the court hall from morning till 5 p.m. on the day when the bail was granted. But the bonds could be furnished only on the next working day, May 14, the last working day for Mr. Pattabhirama Rao. What raised the suspicion of the CBI authorities was that the MLA came to the court carrying a huge amount of cash on May 11.