HYDERABAD: Excise minister Mopidevi Venkataramana and senior IAS officer Manmohan Singh were on Tuesday quizzed by the CBI in the case pertaining to Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's alleged illegal assets case. Venkataramana, who was the infrastructure minister during former chief minister late YS Rajasekhara Reddy's regime, was quizzed for more than four hours at the Dilkusha guest house regarding the GOs issued by the infrastructure department allegedly to favour Vanpic during his tenure.
Manmohan Singh, presently housing secretary was the infrastructure secretary when the GO, which is under the CBI scanner, was issued.
Venkataramana and Manmohan Singh came to the CBI office at Dilkusha Guest house in the afternoon in two separate vehicles at the same time.
The CBI's questioning comes days after the Supreme Court issued notices to six ministers, including Venkataramana and eight IAS officers asking as to why they cannot be probed for issuing the 26 GOs that led to quid pro quo benefits to Jagan. Manmohan Singh is one of the eight IAS officers who was served notice by the CBI.
Emerging from the CBI office, Venkataramana said he was called as a witness in the case.
The CBI reportedly questioned the minister over the decisions taken by the then government with regard to Vanpic project. “As the then infrastructure and investment minister, I was called by the CBI and they sought queries pertaining to the decisions taken by me,'' the minister said.
Venkataramana said officials, who were also part of the decisions taken then, were also questioned by the investigation agency. The CBI, probing Jagan's assets case, alleged that Nimmagadda Prasad, promoter of Vanpic, was given a revision of port limits of Vadarevu and Nizampatnam on July 7, 2009 through GO No 29.
Manmohan Singh was questioned for nearly two hours, sources said.
Prior to the Supreme Court issuing notices, the CBI asked Venkataramana and Manmohan Singh to appear before it. Though the investigation agency wanted the minister to appear before it in the first week of March, Venkataramana reportedly sought time in view of the byelections in the state.
According to sources, Venkataramana was questioned about GOs 29, 30 and 31 issued during YSR’s regime. The GOs relate to exemption from Stamps and Registration Act to Vadarevu and Nizampatnam Port and Industrial Corridor (Vanpic), land acquisition and other benefits extended to the company.
The probe agency is of the opinion that the government favoured Vanpic by allotting 15,000 acres and the promoters of the company have invested more than Rs 500 cr in Jagan’s companies