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A special court dealing with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases on Monday granted permission to the investigative agency to prosecute senior state minister Dharmana Prasada Rao under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) after the state government turned down a similar request made by the CBI.
The minister is one of the key accused in the alleged irregularities involving alienation of thousands of acres of land in favour of a port-cum-industrial corridor project during 2008-2009.
Another accused in the state Cabinet, Mopidevi Venkata Ramana, had resigned as minister as soon as he was arrested by the CBI in the same case last year. His resignation was accepted by the chief minister.
While both of them have already been allowed for prosecution under other criminal laws, the investigative agency’s bid to widen the scope covering various sections of Anti-Corruption Act had failed since it was to proceed with the prosecution under the PC Act only after the state government’s permission.
In an interesting twist, the court told the CBI that it in fact required no permission from the government in this particular instance.
The port land case is one of the important leads of the CBI’s investigation into the alleged quid pro quo investment case being pursued against Kadapa MP Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who has already been served with multiple chargesheets.
While hearing the CBI petition, principal session Judge U Durga Prasad Rao said the government permission was not required because both the ministers cannot be considered as public servants as the legislative Assembly was dissolved in 2009, when their involvement in the crime had taken place.
Rao continues to be minister as the chief minister has refused to accept his resignation even though he stays away from official functions.