Senior IAS officer Y. Srilakshmi (DC)
HYDERABAD: In a major setback to senior IAS officer Y. Srilakshmi, the Telangana High Court on Saturday dismissed her petition requesting it to declare a pending CBI case against her as arbitrary and quash the first supplementary chargesheet filed against her.
The chargesheet was filed by the CBI on March 30, 2012, under Section 173(8) of the CrPC in CC No. 1 of 2012 and has been pending on the files of the special judge of CBI court in Hyderabad. The CBI has been investigating her role in the alleged illegal mining activity by the Obulapuram Mining Company in Bellary reserve forest in Anantapur.
In the supplementary chargesheet, the CBI alleged that Srilakshmi had misused her office during her term from 2007 to 2009 as secretary, industries and commerce. It said she had misused powers vested in her by conspiring to grant illegal mining licenses to favour Obulapuram Mining Company Private Limited and made her the sixth accused in the case.
Justice K. Lakshman rejected the request of Srilakshmi and observed that prima facie, serious allegations existed as she had committed the alleged offences of abusing her official position in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy to grant illegal mining leases.
He said though Section 482 of CrPC conferred wide powers on the High Court to quash the proceedings in criminal cases, they should be used sparingly. The power could be used only when there was abuse of court process or to secure ends of justice, he said. The IAS officer’s case did not come under such an exceptional case.
Justice Lakshman disagreed with the contentions of Srilakshmi, who argued that the investigation was entrusted to the CBI only with regard to boundary disputes and illegal mining activities of OMCPL in the Bellary forest and other related matters, But, the CBI went into issue of pre-grant and granting of mining leases, which it was not entrusted to investigate, she claimed.
Justice Lakshman said that CBI had wide jurisdiction in light of the phrase "other related matters" as used in the GO, which entrusted investigation to CBI. The court also did not accept her argument that the Union of India had the dominion over iron ore and she had no role to play in granting the leases.
"A perusal of the record, prima facie, indicates that Srilakshmi sent the proposal to grant leases to OMCPL. It was she who had sent a comparative table including the applicants for leases. She had the duty and power to reject applications by issuing show cause notices, to hear the rejected applicants and issue reasoned orders. Therefore, she cannot contend that she had no role to play and Section 409 of the IPC is not attracted," Justice Lakshman said.
The court considered the aspect of a specific allegation that one M. Rakesh Babu, who is the brother-in-law of Srilakshmi had acquired properties during her term as the secretary, industries and commerce. "Therefore, the petitioner cannot contend that no offences were committed and has to face trial under section 13(1)(d) and Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988," the judge said.