The Andhra Pradesh High Court today granted bail to suspended CBI court judge Talluri Pattabhirama Rao and two others in connection with the sensational cash-for-bail scam involving former Karnataka Minister Gali Janardhan Reddy.
Pattabhirama Rao, who was arrested on June 19 by the Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly accepting a bribe to grant bail to the mining baron in the Obulapuram Mining Company case, had moved the High Court against the dismissal of his bail application by the trial court.
Justice S Govindarajulu, who heard the arguments observed that the ACB had already filed a chargesheet, which disclosed that there is no investigation pending.
"The mere apprehension of the ACB that if the accused (Pattabhirama) is released on bail, he might influence witnesses cannot be the sole ground to keep the accused in jail indefinitely. Even otherwise, on merit, the ACB's case is solely dependent upon circumstantial evidence," the high court judge said.
The judge further observed in his orders, "Looking at the age of the accused (Pattabhirama), his health condition and the fact he held the office of a judge, the court can safely conclude that letting off the accused will not prejudice the case of the prosecution".
The high court then granted bail to Pattabhirama on condition of furnishing two sureties for an amount of Rs 1 lakh.
The court also granted bail to another suspended district judge K Lakshminarasimha Rao as well as Janardhan Reddy's brother and Bellary City MLA Gali Somashekhar Reddy.
The judge observed that Lakshminarasimha Rao and Somashekhar are also entitled to bail as the investigation has already been completed.
Lakshminarasimha, who along with another suspended judge T Prabhakar Rao now under judicial custody, were arrested in July and are accused of trying to bribe Pattabhirama to secure bail for the mining baron.
Somashekhar, who allegedly played a key role in the affair, had struck a deal for Rs 20 crore with a history-sheeter Yadagiri Rao in order to secure bail for his brother.
Later, on May 10, Yadagiri arranged a meeting between Pattabhirama?s son and a retired judge T V Chalpathi Rao. The actual sum that changed hands was Rs 9.5 crore, ACB said.
The high court dismissed two applications moved by the ACB, for cancellation of bail of a junior lawyer T Aditya and Pattabhirama's son Ravi Chandra, who were earlier granted bail by the ACB court.
The second charge-sheet filed in the special ACB court names two suspended district judges K Lakshminarasimha Rao and T Prabhakar Rao (now under judicial custody), who are accused of trying to bribe suspended CBI Court Judge T Pattabhirama Rao, to secure bail for the mining baron in the Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) case.
The ACB in its chargesheet filed against Pattabhirama and others charged him of entering into a criminal conspiracy with others to facilitate bail to Janardhan Reddy.
The case was exposed by CBI in May after Pattabhirama Rao, additional special judge for CBI court, granted bail to Janardhan Reddy while refusing the same relief to suspended IAS officer Y Srilakshmi in the OMC case.
Amid allegations of bribe-taking against judge Rao, Andhra Pradesh High Court suspended him on May 31, and transferred the case to the ACB. The HC also cancelled Reddy?s bail.
ACB has so far arrested three serving judges including Pattabhirama, besides eight others, in two cases related to the scandal.