CBI chargesheet baseless : Jagan party
After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheeted YSR Congress Party chief Jagan Mohan Reddy in connection with a disproportionate assets case, his party has termed the chargesheet as fraudulent and has planned to move court against it.
Mr Reddy was, on Saturday, named as the prime accused in a list of 13 people who figure in the 68-page chargesheet that was submitted by the investigating agency in a Special CBI Court at the Nampally Criminal Court complex in Hyderabad. The others include former home secretary of Andhra Pradesh and now suspended IAS officer BP Acharya who has been named as accused number nine. Mr Reddy’s financial advisor, Vijay Sai Reddy, who is already in jail, has been named accused number two. Three pharmaceutical companies – Aurobindo, Hetero and Trident – have also been named in the chargesheet. So has Mr Reddy’s Jagathi Publications that is named as accused number 12. The accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy, cheating, falsification of documents, forgery and abuse of official position under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and other provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The case against Mr Reddy, who is also the MP from Kadapa, revolves around benefitting hugely vis-a-vis his companies by using his father Y S Rajasekhara Redddy’s influence when the latter was the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. His assets last year totalled 365 crores.
His party, though, contends that the case against him doesn’t hold much water and that investigations into the case cannot be held as complete for two reasons. Firstly, the CBI, they say, is yet to interrogate Mr Reddy. Secondly, the party has cited the Supreme Court’s notice earlier this month on 26 government orders (GOs) that were issued by six ministers, all from the Congress, and eight bureaucrats from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The GOs pertain to 26 deals struck between the Andhra Pradesh government and various companies that the 14 people were allegedly responsible for. The case against Mr Reddy has also been constructed by the CBI on the basis of these agreements. Mr Reddy’s supporters, though, say that the chargesheet makes no mention of the government orders and hence, is baseless.
They had earlier said that that it was unfair for Mr Reddy alone to be investigated. Though they stressed that Mr Reddy’s vast wealth had been legitimately earned, they said that if he was shown undue favour, others who were then in government must explain their role. Counsel for Mr Reddy also says that the MP has not been slapped with charges under the IPC but only under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The latter charge, he says, would not hold as Mr Reddy was not a government servant between 2004 and 2009 when his businesses expanded allegedly by using his father’s office as the chief minister.
The CBI, though, says that this chargesheet is just the first of more to follow given the fact that only 13 out of the 78 named in the First Information Report (FIR) have figured in the initial chargesheet.
The chargesheet has fuelled speculation of Mr Reddy’s imminent arrest. But this has reportedly worried the Congress in the state which fears that the Kadapa MP, if taken into custody, could end up gaining more than he loses. Mr Reddy had split with the Congress after his father’s death in a helicopter crash in 2009 and had formed his own party named after his father, the YSR Congress. The Congress’ concerns stem from the fact that the YSR Congress, after a strong showing in the recent bye-elections, could capitalise on a possible sympathy wave triggered by its leader’s arrest that could eventually reflect in the votes for the upcoming bye-elections to 18 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat. The polls have been forced by sitting MLAs who are openly supporting Jagan Reddy.
The investigation into Mr Reddy’s wealth was ordered by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in August last year. Mr Reddy had appealed to the Supreme Court to stop the inquiry but that was not entertained.