Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy on Thursday received support from unexpected quarters with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) going to her defence against remarks by IAS officer Y. Srilakshmi that the mining lease to Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) was granted with the approval of the Minister.
The CBI informed a court which sent Ms. Srilakshmi to jail today that there was no justification for the official to blame the Minister because she was only a public representative and wholly dependent on the bureaucracy to guide her in discharge of her official duties. The court was hearing arguments on the bail application of Ms. Srilakshmi.
Loss to exchequer
Public prosecutor of CBI Balla Ravindranath contended that the huge loss to public exchequer on account of the scam could have been averted if Ms. Srilakshmi conducted herself responsibly. As a well-educated woman, it was not good on the part of Ms. Srilakshmi to blame the Minister.
Opposing bail for Ms. Srilakshmi, the CBI pointed out that she had persuaded the Central government to give forest clearance and other sanctions in advance to OMC and all other procedures could be fulfilled later. She even bluffed to the Centre that she would even send the ‘reasoned order' to show why OMC was preferred to other bidders for grant of lease. But, it was never complied.
Ms. Srilakshmi allowed free access to her office by representatives of OMC who even laid their hands on the official communication by her with the Centre. They would even carry confidential letters and GOs from the office. She was also keen that a lease area reserved for State-owned mineral development corporation went to OMC.
V. Surender Rao, counsel for Ms. Srilakshmi, said her correspondence with Centre was only with regard to leases that were already granted prior to her posting as secretary of industries.
She only initiated follow up action, including seeking sanction letters from Centre and despatching rejection letters to other bidders.