A Bangalore court Friday remanded former Karnataka minister G Janardhan Reddy in CBI custody for 10 days,instead of the 15 days the agency had asked for,in connection with an illegal mining case in Karnataka.
Hours before the court was to decide on Reddys remand,his key aide Mahfouz Ali Khan,who was on the run for the past several months,surrendered before a CBI court. The surrender of Khan,an accused in the case who the CBI believes has much knowledge of Reddys illegal mining operations,was seen as a strategic move by Reddy to dissuade the court from sending him to extended CBI custody.
Khan,25,Reddys personal assistant and managing partner in two firms later identified as front companies for the former minister,was put on a lookout list by the CBI last year after he failed to respond to summons issued to him.
It were the documents seized from Khans residence during an Income Tax raid in October 2010 that revealed the full extent of illegal mining operations in Bellary.
The CBI had cited Khans elusiveness as one the key reasons in its plea seeking Reddys custody for 15 days for extended interrogation. It had also argued that the case involved transactions made by Reddys Associated Mining Company with 13 other firms and at least a day each would be required to question him on transactions with each company. The court,however,granted the CBI his custody only till March 12.
Reddy was driven to the court in Bangalore after prison officials in Hyderabad – he has been lodged at Chanchalguda jail since his arrest on September 5,2011 in a case of alleged illegal mining by his Andhra Pradesh-registered Obulapuram Mining Corporation – declined his request to fly him,at his own cost. He was received in Bangalore by his friend and political ally,former minister B Sreeramulu.
The CBI probe into illegal mining involving Reddys Karnataka-registered Associated Mining Company has found that in 2009-10 alone,as much as 32.9 lakh tonne of iron ore,worth about Rs 1,700 crore,was sourced from encroachments.
The CBI began probing the case after the Supreme Court on September 23,2011,directed it to look into charges that Bellary-based mining companies illegally sourced iron ore from Karnataka and supplied it to Obulapuram Mining Company in Andhra Pradesh.