Andhra HC to hear Naidu’s quash petition on 19 Sept; asks ACB Court to suspend proceedings

Naidu had requested the AP High Court to ask the ACB Court to suspend proceedings on his case until his quash petition is resolved.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Sep 13, 2023 | 5:17 PMUpdatedSep 13, 2023 | 5:18 PM

Chandrababu Naidu SIT

The Andhra Pradesh High Court, on Wednesday, 13 September, adjourned the hearing on a quash petition filed by former state chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu to 19 September.

Naidu sought the dismissal of the Crime Investigation Department’s (CID) remand report and the ACB Court’s orders that remanded him to judicial custody at the Rajamahendravaram Central Prison.

Chandrababu Naidu was arrested at daybreak on Saturday, 9 September, for his alleged involvement in the ₹371 crore AP State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) scam, which is said to have occurred during his tenure as the state’s chief minister from 2014 to 2019.

The AP High Court postponed the hearing, instructing the CID to submit its counter by 18 September.

Naidu also requested the court to ask the ACB Court to suspend the proceedings on his case until his quash petition is resolved.

The high court accordingly directed the ACB Court to halt the hearing on the CID’s request for the former chief minister’s custody for five days of further interrogation in the skill development scam until 18 September.

Related: AP CID chief Sanjay’s tangles with Naidu’s kith & kin

‘Governor’s consent not sought’

In his quash petition, Naidu’s counsel argued that, according to Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), the CID needed prior permission from the Governor to register a case against a public servant.

At the time of the alleged scam, he was the chief minister, but the prosecution agency had not obtained the necessary consent, rendering the section inapplicable.

He cited a Supreme Court judgement that emphasised the requirement for prosecution agencies to secure prior permission from the competent authority when prosecuting public servants.

Naidu’s counsel also argued that the case against him should fall under the jurisdiction of the special court for trying cases against people’s representatives.

He pointed out that despite a lack of substantial evidence, the CID had framed him in the case, 22 months after it was filed, allegedly at the behest of the incumbent chief minister.

Also read: With Naidu’s arrest, battle for 2024 has begun; but who will benefit?

‘Name included based on individual’s deposition’

Naidu expressed concern over his safety while in remand, given the threat to his life, and highlighted that he had been provided with Z-plus security by the Union government. He believed that the ruling party wanted to keep him away from his security detail.

Furthermore, he noted that the ACB court’s remand report did not explain why his remand was necessary and that his apprehensions were not considered before issuing the remand orders.

Naidu also contended that his name was included in the case based on the deposition of an individual, long after the CID filed the case and issued an FIR on December 9, 2021.

The deposition alleged that Naidu was involved in the misappropriation of public funds in the establishment of excellence centres by the AP Skill Development Corporation to provide new skills to unemployed youth for private-sector employment.

Related: Naidu, his party ultimate beneficiaries of scam, says Andhra CID

Invoking of Section 409 questioned

He argued that the CID and the state government were motivated solely by political interests and lacked substantial evidence to support any of the charges listed in the remand report. He asserted that there was no prima facie evidence against him, yet he was named as an accused in the case.

Naidu’s counsel also criticised the CID for invoking Section 409 of the IPC without sufficient evidence of criminal breach of trust. He emphasised that the officials had carefully planned and implemented the skill development project, afer studying Siemens’ role in a similar project in Gujarat.

Naidu urged the High Court to dismiss both the FIR and the remand order issued by the ACB court, as the charges against him lacked the support of evidence and were politically motivated.

In another order, the Andhra Pradesh High Court directed the ACB court in Vijayawada to refrain from hearing the CID’s petition for Naidu’s custody for five days for interrogation in the scam, as it was already considering Naidu’s quash petition.

Related: Court prima facie found material to establish Naidu’s role in scam

Anticipatory bail hearing postponed

The AP High Court also postponed the hearing on Naidu’s anticipatory bail petition in the Amaravati Inner Ring Road scam, following the CID’s request for additional time to file its counter.

The CID had alleged irregularities in the finalisation of the road’s alignment, naming Naidu as the primary accused.

The case was registered on May 9, 2022, based on a complaint by YSRCP MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy on April 27, 2022, regarding irregularities in the master plan design, inner ring road, and connecting roads. Naidu argued that there was no scope for illegal gains, as his government had not acquired any land.

He labelled the case against him as illegal, driven by political vendetta, and an attempt to harass him for opposing the government on issues concerning the people.

Naidu also pointed out that the other accused in the case had been granted anticipatory bail on September 6, 2022.