Stay your hand: Supreme Court tells AP to defer Naidu arrest in the Fibrenet case till 18 October

The apex court will hear Naidu’s plea for anticipatory bail in Fibernet case and quashing of FIR in skill development scam on 17 October.

ByParmod Kumar

Published Oct 13, 2023 | 7:52 PMUpdatedOct 13, 2023 | 7:52 PM

Chandrababu Naidu was recently awarded regular bail. (Commons)

On Friday, 13 October, the Andhra Pradesh government told the Supreme Court that it would not arrest former chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu in the Fibernet case until 18 October.

It said it would seek adjournment of the matter listed before the trial court on Monday, 16 October, as the Supreme Court had deferred the hearing on Naidu’s plea for anticipatory bail to 17 October, along with his plea for quashing the FIR in the ₹371-crore skill development scam.

Also read: Relief for Naidu: AP HC grants anticipatory bail in Angallu case

Two matters adjourned to 17 October

Posting Naidu’s plea for anticipatory bail in the Fibernet case to 17 October, a Bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi said that in the matter of anticipatory bail and quashing of the FIR in the alleged skill development scam, there is the common issue of prior sanction of the Governor under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988.

“Stay your hand. Tell the court that you are not arresting him till then,” the Bench told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was appearing for Andhra Pradesh.

Chandrababu Naidu has challenged the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s 9 October order turning down his plea for anticipatory bail in the Fibernet case.

Also read: Threat to life of Chandrababu Naidu in prison, alleges TDP

No arrest till 18 October

As senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, appearing for Naidu, began his argument on the anticipatory bail plea, after the hearing on the quashing petition was posted for 17 October, Justice Bose said that Section 17A is common to both the matters and directed that the anticipatory bail plea would be taken up on the same day.

However, Luthra told the Bench that the trial court had issued a production warrant and the moment Naidu was produced before the court on Monday, 16 October, he would be arrested.

Initially, senior advocate Rohatgi said that that they would not arrest Naidu in the Fibernet case. However, to allay the apprehension of Luthra, Rohatgi said that on 16 October, they would seek adjournment till Wednesday.

Prior to this, resuming his argument that remained inconclusive on 10 October, Rohatgi reiterated that there was no requirement of prior sanction under Section 17A as the skill development case is from before 2018 when 17A was inserted in the PC Act.

Referring to the earlier judgements of the top court and certain high courts, Rohatgi said that it has been held that while deciding such cases, the purpose of the law — that is to curb corruption — cannot be lost.