Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government o Tuesday began seeking legal opinion on how to defend the six ministers who were served notices by the Supreme Court in a case involving alleged illegal assets of MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.
The Congress government is in dilemma on whether to defend the ministers and bureaucrats or leave it to them to fight their case individually.
The ministers are P. Sabita Indra Reddy (home), J. Geeta Reddy (major industries), Dharmana Prasada Rao (panchayati raj), Ponnala Lakshmaiah (information technology), Kanna Lakshminarayana (agriculture) and Mopidevi Venkatramna (excise).
On a petition by a Nellore-based lawyer P. Sudhakar Reddy, the apex court Monday issued notices to the six ministers and eight Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officials, asking them why they were not being questioned about their role in issuing 26 government orders, which allegedly helped Jagan amass assets in a quid pro quo arrangement.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is currently probing Jagan`s wealth on the basis of 26 government orders issued during his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy`s tenure (2004-09). The orders allegedly benefited companies in the form of lands, licenses and they invested huge money in the businesses owned by Jagan under quid pro quo arrangement.
The state government is in dilemma as defending the orders would mean allowing Jaganmohan, popularly known as Jagan, to claim innocence. According to political observers, it is also not easy for Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to ask the six ministers to resign or drop them as they are all considered political heavyweights.
Four of six ministers held a meeting in the lobbies of the state assembly to chalk out their future course of action even as the opposition kept the pressure on them inside the house, demanding their resignations.
The ministers later met the chief minister to discuss the issue. Since the ministers are yet to receive the notices, it was decided to wait for the same before taking any decision
J. Geeta Reddy said she acted in accordance with the rules while issuing orders as a minister.
"I did not take any individual decision. I have nothing to do with behind the curtain dealings," she said in an obvious reference to allegation that the orders benefiting certain companies were used to attract investments into Jagan`s firms.
"I can`t understand why TDP is supporting Jagan," she added.
For the second consecutive day, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) stalled proceedings, seeking the resignations of the "tainted" ministers. The opposition is demanding that the chief minister drop the ministers from his cabinet in case they refuse to step down.
Raj Dharmana Prasad Rao, Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Kanna Lakshminarayana also attended the meeting.
"Just because the court has issued notice, it does not mean that we are guilty," said Lakshmaiah.