Special court dismisses petitions by Reddys, CBI

Special court dismisses petitions by Reddys, CBI

Hyderabad: A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court on Friday dismissed bail petitions by mining tycoon and former Karnataka minister G. Janardhan Reddy and his brother-in-law B.V. Srinivas Reddy, arrested in connection with a case of illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh.

Judge Naga Maruthi Sharma also turned down the CBI’s petition for a second spell of custodial interrogation of the Reddys, whom the agency has already questioned for six days after arresting them on 5 September. The CBI had sought to interrogate them for an additional nine days, saying it was vital for the agency to file a chargesheet in the case.

CBI lawyers B.P. Raju and T. Venkata Ramana told reporters that the agency would now approach the Andhra Pradesh high court. Defence lawyers P. Praveen Kumar and V. Rami Reddy, representing Janardhan Reddy and Srinivas Reddy, respectively, said they would have to study the order and plan their next course of action.

Defence lawyers on Thursday opposed extended CBI custody of Janardhan Reddy and Srinivas Reddy, citing a judicial precedent that custodial interrogation of suspects must take place within 15 days of their arrest.

Friday’s ruling was the second time the special court has rejected bail for Janardhan Reddy and Srinivas Reddy, a director and managing director, respectively, of Obulapuram Mining Co., or OMC.

The CBI has alleged they had in 2007 secured a mining licence in Andhra Pradesh in connivance with state government officials, and used it to legitimize iron ore mined illegally in Karnataka. The Karnataka ore was brought to the site of the Andhra Pradesh mine, transported elsewhere and sold, the agency has alleged.

CBI lawyers argued that the agency needed to question the Reddys to find out the names of complicit government officials. Because the case involves thousands of crore, the agency needs to interrogate the accused for a total of at least 15 days, they said.

The Reddys have denied wrongdoing. Barring the six days of custodial interrogation by the CBI, the two men have been in Hyderabad’s Chanchalguda central jail under judicial custody, which keeps them beyond the reach of India’s premier investigating agency.

The CBI opposed bail for the suspects, saying they were capable of tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses. Both Janardhan Reddy and Srinivas Reddy are ready to surrender their passports, their lawyers said. Should there be evidence of them tampering with evidence or trying to influence the witnesses, the court could cancel bail, they contended.

The Reddys will next appear in the special court on 3 October, when their judicial custody ends.