Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy has been directed to appear before a special Enforcement Directorate court in Hyderabad on Monday, in connection with alleged irregularities in land allotment to pharma firms when his father, late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, was Chief Minister.
Vijay Sai Reddy, a Rajya Sabha MP from the ruling YSR Congress, and the heads of the pharma firms – Srinivasa Reddy (Director of Hetero Drugs), Nithyananda Reddy (the Managing Director of Aurobindo) and Sarath Chandra Reddy (Director of Trident Life Sciences) – have also been summoned, as have former bureaucrats BP Acharya and PV Ramprasad Reddy.
The special court is looking into allegations of disproportionate income and “quid pro quo” investments – that between 2004 and 2009 (when YS Rajasekhara Reddy was in power) the firms invested in companies linked to Jagan Reddy in exchange for land in a SEZ (Special Economic Zone).
The Chief Minister was directed to appear before the Hyderabad court after the case was transferred from a local court in Nampally, where the central agency filed a charge sheet in 2016. The case was transferred because it involved alleged offences under the Money Laundering Act.
The same court will also hear charge sheets filed by the CBI, on whose probe the Enforcement Directorate case is based. The CBI had filed 11 charge sheets and the Enforcement Directorate six.
In January last year Jaganmohan Reddy appeared before the Nampally court to face the ongoing trial. The judge rejected an exemption plea and directed Mr Reddy to appear in person.
That was the Chief Minister’s first appearance in court since he was sworn in on May 30, 2019. He had failed to appear for several months prior as he was busy campaigning for the general election
He had sought exemption on grounds of his busy schedule as Chief Minister.
However, the then CBI counsel argued that non-appearance would give him “liberty to do whatever he wants and influence witnesses behind iron wall of politics, money and muscle power”.
Several former ministers are also accused in the case.
Jagan Mohan Reddy is currently out on bail, having spent time in jail as an “un-convicted criminal prisoner” in the Chanchalguda Central Prison from May 2012 to September 2013.