Skill development scam: AP high court junks Naidu’s plea seeking quashing of FIR

Sep 22, 2023 03:10 PM IST

The high court’s order comes hours after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) court in Vijayawada extended Naidu’s judicial custody till September 24

The Andhra Pradesh high court on Friday dismissed the petition filed by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu seeking to quash the case filed against him by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) in the Rs.371 crore ‘skill development scam’.

Telugu Desam Party president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu (File Photo)
Telugu Desam Party president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu (File Photo)

A high court bench headed by justice K Sreenivas Reddy, who reserved his judgement on September 19 after hearing the arguments on the quash petition filed by Naidu for over five hours, delivered the judgement on Friday, people familiar with the matter said.

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The high court’s order comes hours after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) court in Vijayawada extended his judicial custody till September 24.

Further details of the judgement are still awaited.

Also Read: Special court defers to Friday order on CID plea seeking Naidu’s custody

During the course of arguments on September 19, former solicitor general of India, Harish Salve, and senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, arguing for the TDP chief said 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, for the CID, argued that there was no need to obtain any sanction from the 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 that Naidu was aware of the cost inflation of the project and yet proceeded with it in a 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 said.

Meanwhile, the special court for the ACB in Vijayawada on Friday extended the judicial remand of Naidu by two more days, till September 24.

Naidu was arrested by the CID of Andhra Pradesh Police on September 9 at Nandyal in connection with the skill development corporation scam.

He was produced before the ACB court at Vijayawada on September 10 which remanded him judicial custody till September 22. Naidu was then shifted to Rajahmundry Central Jail in the early hours of September 11.

Also Read: 15 TDP MLAs suspended after ruckus hits Andhra House over Naidu arrest

With Naidu’s 14-day judicial remand coming to an end by Friday night, the CID produced him before the ACB court through video conference from Rajahmundry jail in the morning.

People familiar with the development said the judge, before extending Naidu’s judicial remand till September 24, asked him whether he had faced any inconvenience in the judicial remand.

The ACB court judge told him that Naidu should not consider it as a punishment, as it is just a judicial process as per the law. “You are only facing allegations and further investigation would bring out the real facts in the case,” the judge said.

Naidu expressed anguish over the alleged illegal arrest by the CID. “I am mentally tormented by being in jail. Everybody in the country and the state is aware of my credibility. My arrest was totally unjust and illegal,” he said.

Stating that he had spent 45 years of long life in public service, the TDP chief said he was arrested without giving him any notice. “If there is any strong evidence against me, they could arrest me. But they had no such evidence. At this age, it is a big punishment for me,” he regretted.

He, however, said he would respect the law and hoped that justice would prevail ultimately.

On Tuesday, the special ACB court had rejected a petition filed by Naidu seeking house arrest stating, “there was no need for house-detention of Naidu as there was enough security for him in Rajahmundry jail”.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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