Hyderabad, June 2: The judge who granted former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy bail last month in an illegal mining case has been suspended for allegedly taking bribes to pass the order.
The action against CBI court judge T. Pattabhi Rama Rao has been initiated in “public interest”, an order issued on Thursday evening on the directive of Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur said, without specifying the exact reason behind the suspension.
Gali’s bail has been cancelled and Pattabhi has been ordered not to leave Hyderabad without prior permission from the high court while the probe is on.
Local newspapers and channels are rife with unconfirmed reports that the judge was offered Rs 5 crore.
The chief justice’s action followed a complaint by the agency.
Sources in the high court said a “secret inquiry” was ordered against Pattabhi on the basis of prima facie evidence and material submitted by the agency.
The CBI’s suspicion was aroused after it found Gali’s aides ready with the exact sum of Rs 5 lakh as security and two sureties of an equal amount for the bail even before the judge had pronounced his order on May 11. Following this, the agency tracked unusually high transactions in an account opened by Pattabhi’s son recently. Sources said Gali’s aides had clinched the “deal” by zeroing in on the judge’s son.
Despite getting the bail, the mining baron has remained in a Bangalore jail in another mining case in Karnataka. Now that the bail in the Andhra case has been cancelled by the high court, there is a possibility that Gali could be brought back to a Hyderabad jail before hearings.
Pattabhi had been appointed to the CBI first additional special court a few months ago and, therefore, had dealt with a limited number of cases. On the same day he granted Gali bail, he rejected a plea for similar relief filed by IAS officer Y. Srilakshmi, also an accused in the mining scam.
For now, A. Pulliah, a principal judge in one of the other three CBI courts in Hyderabad, has been given additional charge of Pattabhi’s cases.
Till recently, there was only one CBI Court in Hyderabad. The others were set up as the number of cases dealt by the agency increased.
Chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu expressed shock at the bribe-for-bail disclosures.