Court asks Andhra to reconsider probe official’s transfer

The Andhra Pradesh High Court Monday suggested that the state government reconsider the transfer of an official of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), who was heading the probe into a liquor pay-offs scandal allegedly involving some ministers.

The court asked the government to inform it of its decision on the issue by April 27.

Mohan Rao, counsel of the petitioner, told reporters that the court found fault with the manner in which ACB additional director Srinivas Reddy was transferred to coastal security.

The state government earlier this month transferred Srinivas Reddy, who was heading a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe the liquor scandal allegedly involving some ministers. His transfer sparked a row, with the opposition accusing the Congress government of trying to protect tainted ministers.

The ACB Monday submitted a status report on the investigations into the case. The court directed the ACB to submit its final report on June 11.

Taking note of the allegations that many liquor shops in some districts have ‘benami’ ownership, the high court asked the ACB to conduct a comprehensive probe into the issue along with income tax department.

The court also asked the income tax department to probe how some people holding Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards got liquor shop licenses, how they managed the huge funds required to open liquor shops and win licences, and if it involved black money.

The judge also told the ACB that it could approach the court if it needed any assistance to continue the probe into the syndicate.

The ACB during the last four months conducted raids against liquor syndicates across the state and arrested many liquor traders, excise and police officials. The syndicates, also allegedly involving politicians, were formed to help the traders sell liquor at prices higher than those fixed by the excise department.