In reply to a notice issued by the Election Commission (EC) here, the advocates representing the Reddy brothers on Monday said that their mining business did not attract the imposition of office of profit rules contravention of which could disqualify a minister from serving as public figure.
Though Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy, Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy and Health Minister B Sriramulu were present here, they sent their advocates to represent them at the Election Commission.
Their reply comes in the wake of a petition filed by Kondaiah, which was forwarded to the EC by Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj, directing the state chief electoral officer to issue show-cause notices to the mining barons, seeking an explanation on charges that they hold offices of profit despite being state ministers.
Since all the three ministers are directors of Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC), in his petition Kondaiah sought their disqualification as legislators for using “political positions to further their business interests.”
In their explanation to the EC, the Reddys said the “Section 9(a) of the Representation of People Act does not operate to disqualify the lessee of a mining lease and the holder of mining lease in doing mining work cannot be said to be executing the works undertaken by the government, which it was the government’s obligation to perform. Hence, even though the respondents are directors of OMC, Antharagangamma Konda Mines, which is part of OMC and is one of the partners of Ananthapura Mining Corporation, still the same does not operate to disqualify him from holding ministerial position.”
They argued that the allegations do not “operate for removal of a minister as it is not the allegation of the petitioner that this respondent has entered into a subsidising contract with the government of Karnataka relating to work undertaken by the said government.”
‘No reliable documents’
In their submission, the Reddys said that Kondaiah had not produced any “reliable, acceptable or authenticated documents to prove his allegations.”
Citing a Supreme Court decision, the Reddys said: “The law is clear that holding of a mining lease does not operate any disqualification and Section 9-A of the Representation of People Act does not operate any disqualification of the lessee of a mining lease.”
They also pleaded that they be allowed a private hearing before the Election Commission proceeded with the case.
Advocates K Ragavacharyulu and K Chandra Mohan, who submitted the reply, told newsmen that it was a preliminary submission. If required more documents will be produced, they added.