SC to hear Andhra govt plea against Naidu’s bail in skill development case on 26 February

On 16 January, the top court delivered a split verdict on Naidu's plea challenging HC order refusing to quash FIR against him in the case.

ByPTI

Published Feb 12, 2024 | 4:35 PMUpdated Feb 12, 2024 | 4:36 PM

SC to hear Andhra govt plea against Naidu’s bail in skill development case on 26 February

The Supreme Court on Monday, 12 February, fixed for 26 February the hearing of the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea against a high court order granting regular bail to TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu.

He was granted bail on 20 November, 2023, in the AP State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) scam case.

A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal adjourned the hearing after senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Naidu, informed it that senior advocate Harish Salve would be arguing the matter but he was unavailable on Monday.

He sought deferment of the hearing for two weeks to enable Salve to argue the matter.

Also Read: After Naidu, Andhra CM YS Jagan meets PM Modi with wishlist ahead of polls

AP government requested early hearing

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar and advocate Mahfooz Ahsan Nazki, appearing for the Andhra Pradesh government, requested the bench to fix an early date for hearing the appeal against the high court order.

The bench said it could hear the matter on 26 February and listed it after two weeks.

On 16 January, the top court delivered a split verdict on Naidu’s plea challenging the high court order refusing to quash the FIR against him in the APSSDC scam case.

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi differed on the interpretation and applicability of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

Section 17A was introduced by an amendment with effect from 26 July, 2018.

The provision stipulates a mandatory requirement for a police officer to seek prior approval from the competent authority for conducting any enquiry or inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant under the PC Act.

While Justice Bose said prior approval for conducting a probe for the alleged offences under the PC Act against Naidu was needed, Justice Trivedi held section 17A cannot be made applicable retrospectively.

Also Read: Andhra CID files chargesheet against Naidu in IRR case

Arrest and further developments

Naidu was arrested on 9 September last year for allegedly misappropriating funds from the Skill Development Corporation when he was the chief minister in 2015, causing a purported loss of ₹371 crore to the state exchequer. Naidu has denied the allegations.

On 28 November, 2023, the top court sought a response from Naidu on the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea challenging the grant of bail in the case by the high court.

The top court had also relaxed the bail conditions imposed on the 73-year-old leader and allowed him to participate in public rallies and meetings.

It, however, said other bail conditions, including not making public statements or speaking to the media about the case, will remain in force.

On 20 November, 2023, the Andhra Pradesh High Court converted Naidu’s four-week interim medical bail in the case into absolute bail and ordered the former chief minister’s release considering his age, old age-related ailments, his being a non-flight risk and other reasons.

Seeking setting aside of the high court verdict, the state government told the apex court in its appeal that Naidu is an “influential person” and two of his key associates, including a government servant, have already fled the country.

The TDP chief, who had undergone cataract surgery at LV Prasad Hospital in Hyderabad, was released on interim medical bail on 31 October, 2023.

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