VIJAYAWADA/ANANTAPUR: In yet another jolt to the TDP, former MLA JC Prabhakar Reddy and his son JC Asmit Reddy were arrested by the Anantapur police in Hyderabad early Saturday for allegedly buying scrap vehicles, illegally registering them, plying them and selling some of them in violation of several laws and contrary to the Supreme Court verdict prohibiting sale of BS-III vehicles post April 1, 2017.
This is the second arrest of a senior TDP leader in as many days. TDP deputy floor leader in the Assembly K Atchannaidu was arrested Friday for his alleged involvement in the Employees Insurance Scheme (ESI) scam.
Prabhakar Reddy and his son were brought to Anantapur where a local court remanded them in judicial custody for 14 days. Both were lodged in the Anantapur district jail at Reddipalli village in BK Samudram mandal, but since a COVID-19 case was reported there, they were later shifted to the Tadipatri sub-jail.
The police had booked criminal cases against two companies owned by the father-son duo, their family members and close associates following a complaint from the transport department. Companies owned by the TDP leader and family have been charged with forging documents to get BS-III vehicles registered as BS-IV vehicles, plying them in Anantapur district and even selling them.
The cases pertain to the activities of two companies — M/s Jatadhara Industries, owned by JC Uma Reddy, wife of Prabhakar Reddy, and the TDP leader’s son Asmit Reddy; and M/s C Gopal Reddy & Co, owned by Gopal Reddy, a close associate of Prabhakar Reddy.
Sources told The New Indian Express that the two companies had purchased vehicles sold as scrap by Ashok Leyland and got them registered in Nagaland in 2018 by producing fake and fabricated documents. These vehicles were found to be plying in Anantapur district.
Nani ready for debate before media, cites evidence
Upon receipt of information, the police began investigation. An email was sent to Ashok Leyland on Jan 10 this year. It was confirmed by the company that 66 vehicles were sold as scrap -- 40 to Gopal Reddy & Co and 26 to Jatadhara Industries.
During verification of records in the transport department, it was found that all these vehicles were first registered at Kohima in Nagaland and then brought to Anantapur district on a no objection certificate from that State. A team comprising transport department officials and police visited Kohima for further investigation.
The sources said during verification there, it was found that Uma Reddy had signed the application produced before the registering authority on behalf of Gopal Reddy & Co seeking registration of vehicles. Invoices issued by Ashok Leyland that were produced by Uma Reddy were found to be at variance with one another and incomplete.
The invoices were claimed to have been issued by Ashok Leyland Ltd Kalyanpur of Uttarakhand and Ashok Leyland Ltd RSO Hosur in Tamil Nadu. The scrap vehicles were sought to be passed off as road worthy. As per the Supreme Court verdict, the sale of vehicles not complaint with BS IV emission norms was prohibited from April 1.
During investigation, it was detected that the companies obtained no objection certificates within a few days and got the vehicles registered at Anantapur and began plying the scrap vehicles for wrongful gain, endangering human lives and causing pollution. To their surprise, the investigators also discovered that some of these vehicles were sold to various people in the State. Initially, it was found that only 66 scrap vehicles were procured by the two companies but upon further investigation, it was found that 154 vehicles of BS-III emission norms were sold as scrap to the two companies. All of them were registered as BS IV compliant, a large number of them in Anantapur.
Of them, 101 are on AP rolls. Registration of 89 of them has been cancelled and the process is on to cancel the same for the rest. 28 vehicles were taken on NoC to other States, mainly Telangana and Karnataka, by the companies. The State police have alerted the States concerned about the same. Sources said of the 101 vehicles, 60 have been seized but 41 are yet to be traced.
The companies are also accused of producing fake insurance policies for the vehicles. Further, Prabhakar Reddy is accused of approaching those who bought the scrap vehicles from his companies and paying up to Rs 14 lakhs each to prevent them from filing criminal cases against him. Official sources say he ‘settled’ the matter that way with 35 persons.
Speaking to mediapersons in Hyderabad, Transport Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) said playing with the lives of people, JC Prabhakar Reddy’s family resorted to large-scale irregularities. “We have evidence and based on that alone Prabhakar Reddy and his son were arrested,” he said. Both father and son are directors in Jatadhara Industries.
"Chassis and engines of these BS-III vehicles were purchased as scrap by Jatadhara Industries, based in Tadipatri (50 vehicles) and C Gopal Reddy and Co also based in Tadipatri (104 vehicles). All these vehicles were registered as BS IV vehicles in various parts of the country using fabricated invoices, sale letters and other documents. Moreover, 4 of those chassis were registered illegally as bus chassis, though they were lorry chassis," he said.
According to Transport department officials, a total of 24 cases were registered in Anantapur district and three cases in Kurnool district. A detailed letter was addressed to the Joint Secretary (Transport), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on March 19 requesting to blacklist the 154 vehicles in the VAHAN database to stop further transactions, to direct other states, where the vehicles were registered to cancel the RCs and to issue an advisory to all states to seize the vehicles if found plying.
Meanwhile, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu condemned the arrest of Prabhakar Reddy and Asmit Reddy and described it as an act of vengeance by the Jagan government. He said false cases are being foisted against TDP leaders and they are being arrested. Reacting to the arrest of his brother and nephew, JC Diwakar Reddy said there was no respect for constitution, rules and regulations in the present government. He said officials have lost their spine and are rendered powerless.
"All they can do is nod their heads to whatever that powerful and rich man says. There is no God and whatever that man says is being treated as law. He never likes opposition and those who speak against what he says. There is no point in staging protests. All we can do is wait for another four years till elections. I will not be surprised, if tomorrow I am arrested," he said.
Countering TDP’s allegations, Perni Nani said he was ready for a debate before the media to prove the charges against Prabhakar Reddy and his son. “Those who violate the law have to be punished,” he asserted.
Chandrababu Naidu accuses govt of vendetta politics
Former CM and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu accused the YSR Congress government of resorting to vendetta politics, and said Jagan Mohan Reddy was behaving as if he became CM only to harass TDP leaders. Naidu arrived at the Guntur government hospital to visit Atchannaidu on Saturday but was denied permission