The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the illegal mining case on Tuesday informed the Special Court for CBI cases that it had secured information on the involvement of former Director of Mines V.D. Rajagoal in ‘benami' mining activities when he was in office.
Investigation into the new angle in the case was in progress and the CBI was gathering evidence on it, Deputy Legal Advisor to the CBI B. Ravindranath told the court during the arguments on the bail petition of Mr. Rajagopal. The retired official, the third accused in the case still had considerable influence and posed a threat to witnesses.
A witness had complained to the CBI recently that he was receiving threatening calls, and giving bail to Mr. Rajagopal under such circumstances would allow him to tamper with evidences, the CBI counsel said. By holding three posts at a time – Director of Mines, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of AP Mineral Development Corporation – Mr. Rajagopal had encouraged and helped B.V. Srinivasa Reddy (A1) and Gali Janardhan Reddy (A2) loot iron ore with illegal mining, the CBI counsel submitted.
Further, Mr. Rajagopal had issued favourable orders to A1 and A2 when the Geological Survey of India (GSI) had pointed out discrepancies in mining lease boundaries, Mr. Ravindranath stated.
Though Y. Srilakshmi (A4), then Secretary (Industries), had issued orders on mining leases and licences, it was Mr. Rajagopal who had practically helped Obulapuram Mining Company Private Ltd (OMC) owned by A1 and A2 to resort to illegal mining, the CBI counsel told the court opposing bail to Mr. Rajagopal. The counsel mentioned similar cases in which the Supreme Court had opposed bail under Section 13 (A) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Earlier, Mr. Rajagopal's counsel K. Ravinder Reddy argued that bail could be given to his client since he was retired and could not tamper with evidences as all the records were seized by CBI. When Ms. Srilakshmi, who was still in service, was given bail, why not the retired official, Mr. Ravinder Reddy argued. Besides, Mr. Rajagopal was a chronic diabetic patient and had 95-year-old mother to be taken care of.
The CBI counsel contended that Mr. Rajagopal's case could not be compared to that of Ms. Srilakshmi. Special Court Judge B. Naga Maruthi Sarma posted the order on the petition to Wednesday.