Former Karnataka minister and mining tycoon Gali Janardhana Reddy, an accused in a multi-crore rupee illegal mining case, was Friday allowed by the Supreme Court to visit his hometown Ballari to see his ailing father-in-law.
A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and Ajay Rastogi also expressed concern over the delay in framing of charges and starting of the trial in the Rs 35,000-crore mining scam.
"We are concerned as to why charges have not been framed and trial yet not started," the bench said while pulling up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which is investigating the case.
Though the judges permitted Mr Reddy to attend to his father-in-law for two weeks from June 8, they refused to consider his request seeking dilution of the previous condition barring him to visit Ballari, Karnataka, without the court's approval.
Mr Reddy's lawyer said that on several occasions he has been permitted to visit Ballari and there was not a single complaint that he violated bail conditions.
"This time, his father-in-law had suffered a stroke. He had undergone three bypass surgeries. His medical condition is extremely precarious and he was lying in ICU of a hospital over there," senior advocate S Ganesh said.
The lawyer also said that despite the top court's direction of July 2016 to speed up the trial, it has not even started as the charges are yet to be framed.
Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, who appeared for the CBI, opposed the plea for relaxing the restrictions imposed on Mr Reddy on his visit to Ballari, saying that he was the main accused in the case.
The law officer said that the charges could not be framed because others accused in the case have filed petitions seeking discharge from the case and they are still pending, adding that the CBI would like to file a detailed reply in the case.
The court, however, that it would only deal with Mr Reddy's plea seeking its permission to visit Ballari.
The top court in March had dismissed Mr Reddy's plea to modify his bail condition over Ballari visit.
He was granted conditional bail by the top court in January 2015 after spending more than three years in jail, and directed not to visit his home town Ballari as well as Ananthapur and Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Reddy and his brother-in-law B V Srinivas Reddy, managing director of the Obalapuram Mining Company (OMC), were arrested by CBI on September 5, 2011 from Ballari and brought to Hyderabad.
The company is accused of changing mining lease boundary markings and indulging in illegal mining in the Ballari Reserve Forest area, spread over Ballari and Anantapur district.