Another warrant issued against TDP chief Naidu
Even as the Andhra HC on Tuesday reserved its judgment on a petition filed by Naidu, the state police issued yet another warrant to prosecute him.
Hyderabad: Even as Andhra Pradesh high court on Tuesday reserved its judgment on a petition filed by Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu, who sought quashing of a case filed against him in the multi-crore skill development scam, the state police issued yet another warrant to prosecute him in the AP Fibernet scam, people familiar with the matter said.
Simultaneously, the special court for the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Vijayawada deferred the bail petition of Naidu in the case to September 21. It also deferred to the same date another petition of Naidu seeking anticipatory bail in the Amaravati inner ring road case and a petition of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) asking for police custody of Naidu.
In the high court, a bench headed by justice K Sreenivas Reddy heard the arguments of Naidu’s counsels and that of the government for over five hours on the petition seeking to quash the case against the TDP chief, who also asked for cancellation of his judicial remand.
Arguing for Naidu, former solicitor general of India, Harish Salve, and senior advocate Siddharth Luthra told the court that the CID had not followed due procedure before arresting Naidu in the skill development corporation swindle.
Salve pointed out that under Section 17 (A) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the CID had not obtained the permission of competent authority, the governor of Andhra Pradesh in this case, before arresting Naidu. No case was made out against Naidu since the project in question was up and running and it could not be said that public money was misappropriated, he argued.
Additional advocate general Ponnavolu Sudhakar Reddy and senior lawyer Mithun Rastogi said there was no need to obtain any sanction from competent authority to investigate Naidu’s role in the scam, as the former chief minister had indulged in the scam in a deliberate and calculated manner, causing huge loss to the exchequer.
Rastogi submitted certain emails to the court to establish Naidu was aware on the cost inflation of the project, and yet proceeded with it in private partnership. “Such actions of fabricating records and misappropriating funds cannot be termed as official duty within the meaning of Section 17-A of the PCA,” he argued.
As only 10 days had passed since the arrest of Naidu and the investigation was still at a nascent stage, the case cannot be dismissed, Rastogi argued.
CID sleuths arrested Naidu on September 9 at Nandyal and produced him in the ACB court at Vijayawada on September 10. After hearing the arguments for over eight hours, ACB court judge Himabindu remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days and Naidu was shifted to Rajahmundry central jail in the early hours of September 11.
On September 12, the ACB court dismissed Naidu’s petition for house imprisonment on security grounds. However, the high court on September 13 directed the special court judge not to grant the CID police custody of Naidu till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the CID filed a memo in the ACB court on Tuesday, adding Naidu’s name as A-25 in yet another case related to multi-crore AP Fibernet scam that allegedly took place during the previous TDP regime.
The CID also filed a petition in the court seeking a prisoner transit warrant against Naidu as he is currently under judicial custody in the Rajahmundry prison.
The CID had booked a criminal case in the AP Fibernet (phase-1) project scam under Sections 166 (public servant disobeying law), 167 (public servant making false document), 418 (deliberate cheating to cause loss), 465 (forgery), 468 (falsification of documents), 471 (fraudulently using a forged document), 409 (criminal breach of trust) and 506 r/w 120-B (criminal breach of trust with criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, besides relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, the chief minister’s office said in a statement.
Naidu, who was also holding the portfolio of energy, infrastructure and investment department, personally recommended getting the Fibernet project executed by the energy, infrastructure and investment department, instead of the IT department, the statement said.
“Naidu gave approval for the estimates of the project without any market survey done. He used his influence to revoke the blacklisting on M/s Terasoftware and got the contract awarded to the company by silencing the protests from other bidders,” the official note said, adding that the loss to the government was around ₹330 crore.