Hyderabad, June 1 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is likely to arrest a First Additional CBI Judge Pattabhi Ramarao on charges of accepting a huge bribe to grant bail to former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhana Reddy in an illegal mining case.
The agency has found that Rs.10 crore -- and not Rs.5 crore as suspected earlier -- changed hands. It may also book the judge's son and others involved, CBI sources said.
The CBI has learnt that a retired judge and a man with a criminal past acted as mediators. The cash was allegedly brought from Bellary in Karnataka to Hyderabad in two installments.
The agency has identified five bank lockers of Ramarao and others where the money was deposited.
CBI officials seized Rs.1.60 crore from a bank locker in Ashoknagar area of Hyderabad.
Under the deal between the judge and the relatives of Janardhana Reddy, it was agreed that Rs.3 crore would be paid before the bail order and Rs.7 crore thereafter.
Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur suspended the CBI judge on corruption charges and ordered an inquiry against him, officials said.
Ramarao had granted bail to Reddy, the key accused in the Obulapuram Mining Co (OMC) illegal mining case May 12.
The mining baron, however, remained in Bangalore jail in another illegal mining case. On a petition by the CBI, the high court later stayed the bail.
The high court chief justice took action against the judge Thursday after the CBI lodged a complaint with him, according to officials.
The high court has asked the suspended judge not to leave Hyderabad without informing it.
The chief justice also ordered a probe by the legal department and the anti-corruption cell.
CBI Court Principal Judge A. Pullaiah has been given additional charge of the first additional CBI judge.
Ramarao granted bail to Janardhana Reddy while presiding over the second additional CBI court in the absence of the regular judge.
There was only one CBI court in Hyderabad till last month. Three additional courts were formed to deal with the increasing number of cases.
Justice B. Nagamurthi Sharma, who was the judge of the special CBI court, was appointed the second additional CBI judge.
The OMC case was transferred to the CBI principal court.
However, Janardhana Reddy requested that since Nagamurthi Sharma had been hearing the case all along, the case be transferred to him. As Sharma was on leave, Ramarao heard Reddy's bail plea and granted him the bail.
The mining baron was arrested by the CBI Sep 5 last year in a case of illegal mining in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.
He was lodged in Chanchalguda Central Jail, Hyderabad, but was last month shifted to Bangalore in connection with another case.
Meanwhile, a group of lawyers from Telangana region Friday staged a protest outside the high court demanding the arrest of the suspended judge.
The chief justice said it was unfortunate that a few corrupt were bringing disrepute to the judiciary.