Hyderabad, Nov 23 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh cabinet Friday refused to give permission to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute a senior state cabinet minister in YSR Congress party leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's illegal assets case.
The state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, rejected the CBI request to sanction prosecution of Roads and Buildings Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao.
Minister for Information and Public Relations D.K. Aruna announced the decision at a media briefing Friday evening.
The cabinet meet, which was not attended by Dharmana Rao, deliberated the issue. Health minister D.L. Ravindra Reddy, a known critic of the chief minister, reportedly found fault with the cabinet discussing the issue. He felt the chief minister should have taken a decision on his own.
Some ministers also expressed the view that the government should also defend Mopidevi Venkatramna, a former minister who is currently in jail in the same case. Mopidevi resigned as minister soon after he was arrested by the CBI in May this year.
Political analysts said a decision to allow Dharmana Rao's prosecution would have created problems for the Congress government as three other ministers are also facing allegations in the case.
Dharmana Rao had sent his resignation to the chief minister in August this year after he was named in the fourth chargesheet filed by the CBI in the case. The chief minister has not yet taken a decision on his resignation.
The charges relate to allotment of 28,000 acres of land to Vadrevu and Nizampatnam Ports & Industrial Corridor (Vanpic), for which the then government of Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy had signed a memorandum of understanding with Ras Al Khaimah.
Dharmana Rao was revenue minister in the cabinet of Rajasekhara Reddy, father of jailed MP and leader of YSR Congress party Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy. Vanpic promoter and industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad is also in jail.
Dharmana Rao has claimed that he did no wrong and only discharged his duties only as a minister.
"Without cabinet decision, not a single acre of land can be allotted by the revenue minister or even chief minister to any person or any organisation. The business rules are very clear in this regard," he said in September.
Dharmana Rao and three other ministers are facing charges of favouring some individuals and companies in return for the investments they made into Jaganmohan Reddy's businesses.