Supreme Court issues notice to TDP chief Naidu on plea challenging HC order granting him bail

Court will take up petition after its ruling on whether Naidu had right to protection under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

ByParmod Kumar

Published Nov 28, 2023 | 7:45 PMUpdatedNov 28, 2023 | 7:45 PM

Chandrababu Naidu was recently awarded regular bail. (Commons)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 28 November, sought a response from the former chief minister and TDP supremo Nara Chandrababu Naidu on the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea challenging the state high court’s order granting him regular bail in the alleged ₹371 crore AP State Skill Development Corporation (APPSDC) scam case.

On 20 November, the Andhra Pradesh High Court granted regular bail to Naidu in the case.

Issuing notice, a bench comprising Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma said that the state government’s petition against the grant of bail would be taken up after the pronouncement of the judgement on whether Naidu had the right to protection under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

Related: Andhra govt challenges Chandrababu Naidu’s bail in Supreme Court

SC reserved order

The Supreme Court had, on 17 October, reserved its order on Naidu’s plea seeking the quashing of FIR in the alleged APSSDC scam on the grounds that it was registered without prior sanction of the state Governor under Section 17A of the PC Act.

Section 17A of the PC Act, 1988, requires the investing agencies to take prior sanction of the competent authority for the registration of FIR and initiate “inquiry, enquiry or investigation” against a public servant responsible for the decision or recommendation resulting in loss to the state exchequer, and corruption.

Posting the matter for 8 December, the bench said that the TDP leader can organise rallies and participate in them but would refrain from making statements in respect of proceedings against him in the APSSDC scam case.

The bench in its order has said, “Issue notice returnable on 8 December. All the conditions imposed by the 3 November order by the high court shall continue except the condition of organising or participating in public rallies or meetings. List on 8 December.”

The high court had made Naidu’s four-week interim medical bail absolute and ordered his release on regular bail, considering his age, old age-related ailments, non-flight risk, and other reasons. Naidu’s medical bail ends on 28 November. Naidu was granted bail for 28 days on health grounds on 31 October.

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Contentions of state government

The Andhra Pradesh government, seeking to set aside the high court order, said Naidu was an influential person and “has ensured that two of his key associates, including a government servant, have already fled the country”.

The Andhra Pradesh government (Criminal Investigation Department of the state police) had approached the Supreme Court on 21 November challenging the 20 November state high court order granting bail to the former chief minister in the alleged scam.

Challenging the high court order, the Andhra Pradesh government had contended that the high court had, in the bail matter, “delved deeply into the case’s facts and rendered findings that are not only factually incorrect but also likely to prejudice the court below during the trial”.

The petition by the state government referred to the high court order that says that the former chief minister could not be held responsible for evasion by every sub-contractor.

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The case and the arrest

Naidu was arrested on 9 September by the state police in ₹371 crore in the alleged APSSDC scam. On 10 September, he was sent to judicial remand till 31 October. He was granted bail on 31 October for cataract surgery.

Initially, Naidu’s bail petition was rejected by the Vijayawada Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Court, against which he approached the state High Court.

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its judgement prior to 1 December on Naidu’s plea seeking the quashing of the FIR in the scam case on the grounds that it was registered without prior sanction from the state Governor as mandated under Section 17A of the PC Act, 1988.

Currently, Naidu faces six cases filed by the YSRCP regime: Apart from the APSSDC scam case, there are the Amaravati Inner Ring Road case, the AP Fibernet case, the Punganur violence case, the state sand policy case, and the liquor policy case.