After delaying the matter for nearly four months, the Andhra Pradesh government finally decided on Saturday to provide free legal aid to five out of the six ministers, while ignoring the eight IAS officers, who had received notices from the Supreme Court in March this year regarding the 26 controversial GOs issued during YSR’s regime.
As per the government’s orders, free legal aid will be provided to Sabita Indra Reddy, Geetha Reddy, Dharmana Prasada Rao, Kanna Laxminarayana and Ponnala Laxmaiah.They can engage lawyers to argue their cases in the Supreme Court and bill the state government for it.Officials sources informed that the ministers will engage Supreme Court’s senior counsel and noted lawyer Harish Salve and his team for the purpose.
The orders, however, sparked a fresh controversy as there was no mention initially about providing legal aid to Mr Lakshmaiah and jailed ex-minister Mopidevi Venkataramana in the GO released on Saturday besides the eight IAS officers who had also received notices from SC over the same issue.In fact, both Mr Lakshmaiah and Mr Venkataramana had written to chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy earlier requesting for legal aid from the government.
The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) later came out with a clarification that there was a “communication gap” regarding giving approval for the file pertaining to Mr Lakshmaiah’s legal assistance and that he too would be extended the same facility.The orders providing legal aid to Mr Lakshmaiah are expected to be released immediately.
Official sources said the file pertaining to providing free legal aid to the eight IAS officers is also being circulated and is currently with the finance department. The government is likely to extend free legal aid to the IAS officers too after completing the official formalities.