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AP Guv rejects resolution clears way for prosecution of minister

Hyderabad, Dec 21, 2012 (PTI) 19:06 IST
Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan and Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy. File Photo
Alarm bells have begun ringing once again for some ministers in Andhra Pradesh after Governor E S L Narasimhan reportedly negated the cabinet resolution rejecting the CBI's plea for prosecution of "tainted" minister Dharmana Prasada Rao.

The state cabinet had adopted a resolution on November 23 rejecting the CBI's request for prosecution of Roads and Buildings Minister Dharmana, who was named as accused number five and charge-sheeted in the Vanpic Port land scandal.

However, the Governor is said to have rejected the Cabinet's resolution a couple of days ago and returned the file to the Chief Minister's Office suggesting that the government obtain fresh legal opinion in line with various Supreme Court judgments on similar matters.

"The Governor, in a way, made it clear that the Cabinet had no jurisdiction over such matters. He has virtually cleared the way for prosecution of the chargesheeted minister by rejecting the cabinet decision," highly-placed government sources said. On the other hand, the court issued a show cause notice to Dharmana yesterday, based on a CBI memo to the special court contending that the government's permission is not required to prosecute the minister under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The fresh developments have triggered alarm bells for four other ministers -- Kanna Laskhminarayana, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, J Geeta Reddy and P Sabita Reddy -- who also face corruption charges for acts they committed during their previous stints in the then Y S Rajasekhara Reddy cabinet.

These charges relate to the disproportionate assets case against Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy as well as the illegal iron ore mining case against former Karnataka Minister Gali Janardhan Reddy.

The four ministers filed separate affidavits in the Supreme Court recently, following notices issued by it.

Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has been desperately trying to protect these four ministers, along with Dharmana. In fact, he did not take any official decision on Dharmana's resignation from the cabinet submitted on August 14, though informally he claimed to have "not accepted" it.

Dharmana has not been discharging duties as a minister for over four months now. "I consider myself only as an MLA," he has been saying.

The Governor's rejection of the cabinet resolution is seen as a major setback to the chief minister who always said Dharmana did nothing wrong.

The chief minister came under sharp criticism not only from opposition parties for seeking to "shield the corrupt", but also from senior Congress leaders, including Health Minister D L Ravindra Reddy who objected to the cabinet adopting a resolution on the Dharmana issue which is sub judice.

"I stand vindicated," Ravindra remarked today, after reports that the Governor turned down the cabinet resolution.

"Your cabinet resolution is a blatant attempt to save Dharmana which would ultimately benefit Y S Jaganmohan Reddy. Obviously, this is your game plan to help Jagan by diluting the case," Telugu Desam politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu alleged
in a letter to the chief minister.

Yanamala demanded that the chief minister tender a public apology to the people of the state for having obtained cabinet approval on the prosecution issue of Dharmana even against legal advice and opposition from all quarters.

The TDP leader demanded that the government grant permission to CBI at least now, to prosecute Dharmana against whom it has presented strong evidence of wrongdoing

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