In a significant development fraught with political consequences for the Congress government, Andhra Pradesh Home Minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy was named as an accused in the disproportionate assets case of Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) here on Monday.
She is the fourth in the list of 13 accused named in the latest charge-sheet filed by the investigating agency in a special court. The first three accused are Jagan, his financial advisor V. Vijay Sai Reddy, and Managing Director of Dalmia Cements Puneet Dalmia.
Ms. Sabitha Reddy, who held the portfolio as Minister for Mines & Geology in the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Cabinet, has been charged with misuse of office as a public servant in granting limestone mining lease in an extent of 407.05 hectares to Dalmia Cements in Thalamanchipatnam village of Mylavaram mandal in Kadapa district in 2008 for a period of 30 years.
The accused, who include Managing Director of Eswar Cements Sajjla Diwakar Reddy, the then Industries & Commerce Secretary Y. Srilakshmi and then Director of Mines V.D. Rajagopal, have been charged under Sections 120-B read with 420 and 409 of IPC and Sections 13 (i)(c) and (d) read with 13 (2) and 9 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Dalmia Cements has been charged with making investments in Jagan’s companies as quid-pro-quo arrangement for getting benefits (mining lease) from the government headed by Jagan’s father.
It had invested Rs.50 crore in Raghuram Cements (re-named as Bharathi Cements) by purchasing shares at a premium of Rs.110 per share in 2007 and at a premium of Rs.1,440 per share in 2008. It also invested another Rs.45 crore in Jagati Publications.
Similarly, Eswar Cements has been accused of colluding with Dalmia Cements for not raising any objection to transferring the mining lease, originally granted to it, to the latter.
The 60-page charge-sheet is supported by 53 documents, which were brought in a metal trunk to the court, and 46 witnesses.
Ms. Sabitha is the third Minister after Mopidevi Venkataramana Rao and Dharmana Prasada Rao to face charges in the assets case.
She was examined as a witness in the illegal mining case against Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) by the investigating agency last year.
However, Mopidevi was arrested on May 24 last year and continues to be in jail along with Jagan and industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad while Mr. Dharmana Prasada Rao continues to be in office after his resignation was rejected by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy earlier this year.