AP minister gets two months jail in FERA violation case

Parthasarathy was granted bail on execution of personal bond of Rs 10,000 and a security of the same amount.

Last Updated: Jul 25, 2012, 21:47 PM IST

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh secondary education minister K Parthasarathy was on Wednesday sentenced to two months` simple imprisonment by a court here in a 13-year-old case of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) violation.

The special court for Economic Offences also imposed a fine of Rs five lakh on a city-based firm KPR Tele Products Ltd, of which Parthasarathy was managing director, and also directed him to pay a fine of Rs 20,000 after finding him guilty of non-payment of penalty imposed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) and for violation of FERA provisions.

The court, however, kept the sentence under suspension for a period of 30 days after the minister`s counsel moved a petition seeking time to challenge the order in a higher court.

Parthasarathy, who was present in the court when the order was pronounced, was granted bail on execution of personal bond of Rs 10,000 and a security of the same amount.

The ED had registered a case against Parthasarathy in 1999 for alleged violation of FERA over import of some equipment from abroad by the firm. ED had imposed a penalty of Rs three lakh on him in 2001, but the amount had not been paid.

Making it clear that he will challenge the verdict in a higher court, Parthasarathy said the case has nothing to do with his public life as he was neither an MLA or a minister when it was filed.

"I respect the court order. However, I will fight it out because the court has given me a chance to appeal.... I will move the higher court," the Congress Minister said.

Asserting that he will also legally fight the penalty order, he said, "I was doing some business at that time and there was default, following which the case came up before the court. Today`s order has nothing to do with my public life".

The court had on Monday last issued a NBW against the minister, which was subsequently recalled yesterday after he filed a petition informing that it was due to prior commitment that he was enable to attend the court hearing and had assured of attending the court proceedings today.
Earlier, alleging that the minister did not cooperate with it during the probe and also failed to respond to the notices issued against him over the pending penalty, the ED had filed a complaint before the court.

Parthasarathy is the first among the host of other ministers in the Kiran Kumar Reddy`s Cabinet, who are under the CBI scanner in different criminal cases, to be convicted by a court of law.

Another minister Mopidevi Venkata Ramana has already been arrested and lodged in Chanchalguda jail in connection with Kadapa MP YS Jaganmohan Reddy`s disproportionate assets case.

Though Mopidevi quit as minister, there is no word as of now from the government on whether or not Parthasarathy would be asked to quit or removed from the Cabinet.

The main opposition Telugu Desam Party was quick to demand the dismissal of the convicted minister. "Will Parthasarathy resign on his own or will the Chief Minister remove him," TDP spokesman Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy asked.

TDP MLC Y V B Rajendra Prasad asserted that Parthasarathy has no right to continue as minister when he was awarded a jail term by a court.

"If the minister doesn`t resign, he should be expelled forthwith," he said.
The minister, however, said he would take a decision on whether or not to quit his post after discussing the issue with his party leaders.

"The court has kept the verdict in suspension for a month enabling me to appeal in a higher court. I will consult my legal counsel and take the next step. This case was registered 8-10 years before I entered public life," Parthasarathy told reporters after he got a copy of the judgement.

Parthasarathy has been elected to the state Assembly from Krishna district in 2004 and 2009 and has been serving as minister since 2009.

Meanwhile, highly-placed sources claimed that Parthasarathy did not disclose in his election affidavits in 2004 and 2009 that he was facing criminal charges under FERA though the case has been pending against him since 1999.

"This is a serious offence under the Representation of People Act and he could face further trouble on that count as well," a top official said.

PTI