The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Court in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh said on Monday, 25 September, that it would hear on Tuesday the arguments on the petition filed by the CID seeking a further five-day custody of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in the multi-crore skill development scam.
The court said it would also hear arguments on the bail application moved by the TDP chief’s counsels.
After the ACB Court extended Naidu’s judicial remand till 5 October, the CID filed a fresh petition seeking his custody.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Supreme Court directed Naidu to mention on Tuesday his plea for quashing the FIR against him. Naidu has challenged the 22 September Andhra Pradesh High Court order refusing to interfere with his arrest arising from the scam.
Fresh petition since he was ‘uncooperative’
The CID quizzed Naidu on his role in the skill development scam case on Saturday and Sunday. When the ACB court extended his remand, the CID moved in with a fresh petition, on the ground that they could not get much information out of him since he remained uncooperative during the two days.
The CID filed the petition for Naidu’s custody as soon as it began hearing bail applications moved by Naidu. The CID has already filed two petitions seeking a prisoner transit warrant against Naidu seeking his custody for interrogation for his role in AP Fibrenet and Amaravati Inner Ring Road scams.
Naidu was arrested on 9 September, for allegedly misappropriating funds from the Skill Development Corporation, which resulted in a purported loss of ₹371 crore to the state exchequer.
The ACB Court originally wanted to hear the bail application on Tuesday, but when the CID insisted that its petition also be taken up, the court said it would hear arguments on both petitions the same day.
The court also asked Naidu’s counsel to file their counter to the CID’s fresh petition for custody by Tuesday.
‘Need to elicit information on others involved’
In its fresh petition, the CID said that Naidu’s custody is needed as they have to elicit information from him on the involvement of others in the scam and the manner in which the conspiracy was scripted and implemented.
The CID said that as Naidu, his family members, and the TDP were the suspected end-beneficiaries of the proceeds of the crime, he needed to be further interrogated.
It needs to be ascertained whether the proceeds of the crime are parked with Vikas Kanvilkar who is an accused in the case, the CID added.
The CID said that the nature of the offence being a financial misdemeanour by public officials with a deep-rooted conspiracy it is necessary for the investigation agency to interrogate Naidu to unravel all the elements of the plot which has been hatched to benefit private individuals.
The CID contended that during the course of the investigation, it came to its notice that several crores of rupees were deposited in cash in the bank accounts of the TDP during 2018-20.
Naidu admits operating bank account
Naidu had admitted that he was the authorised signatory for these bank accounts but demanded that he be shown proof of cash deposits made.
As it was necessary to show bank statements to him and question him on the source of funds, the CID said it was necessary that the agency get custody of Naidu. The zonal manager of Bank of Baroda in Hyderabad has been asked to furnish bank transaction statements.
The CID said in its interrogation that Naidu had dodged answering questions, taking advantage of being the former chief minister.
He did not allow the line of questioning of the CID further by insisting that his own narration be recorded. The accused did not even speak on the issues that were within his knowledge and side-stepped the lawful line of questioning with evasive answers.
The prosecution could not proceed further with the investigation due to his prevarication in answering questions.