New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused urgent mentioning of a petition filed by former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to quash the case registered against him in an alleged skill development scam.
According to LiveLaw, the petition was not included in the list of oral mentions for Monday. Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud refused out-of-turn listing to the petition, asking Naidu’s lawyer Siddharth Luthra to mention it again on Tuesday.
Naidu had filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court on Saturday challenging the Andhra Pradesh high court’s dismissal of his plea to quash the FIR. Subsequntly, a court in Vijayawada granted two days’ police custody to the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID) to interrogate Naidu.
On Sunday, with Naidu’s custody set to end, the Vijayawada ACB court extended it by 11 days, until October 5. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief was produced before the court virtually from the Rajahmundry Central Jail.
The leader of the opposition in Andhra Pradesh was arrested early on September 9, as an accused in the FIR registered by the AP CID in 2021 over an alleged multi-crore scam in relation to the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation.
During Naidu’s term (2014-19), the state government and two companies initiated a project to create six centres of excellence (CoE) and 36 technical skill development institutes. The estimated cost was around Rs 3,281 crore, which the CID claims is an inflated amount.
The CID claims that Naidu and others allegedly routed hawala transactions through a network of shell companies, did not adhere to procedures and disregarded observations regarding the project’s viability. The TDP has set up a website to counter the allegations, highlighting that Andhra Pradesh established one of the highest numbers of clusters and trained the highest number of candidates among all the states that had similar schemes.
The Andhra Pradesh high court had dismissed Nadiu’s petition to quash the case while noting that the investigation is attaining finality and the court cannot interfere at this stage.
Naidu’s arguments in SC petition
According to LiveLaw, Naidu’s petition in the top court says that he was “suddenly named in the FIR” and arrested in an illegal manner for “political reasons”. While claiming that due process was not followed before his arrest – such as seeking mandatory approval under Section 17-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the plea states that the FIR is a case of “political vendetta”. Naidu and his family “are being targeted to crush all opposition to the party in power in the Respondent State with elections coming near in 2024”, the petition says.
The petition also accused the Andhra Pradesh CID of acting at the behest of the ruling party to damage the TDP’s prospects in the state assembly election, which are scheduled to be held parallel to the general election.
“The CID is threatening the officers and others to implicate the Petitioner, his family and the Party. The continuing political vendetta by the State Administration is demonstrated from the fact that various senior leaders of the Petitioner’s party have in the past been arrested and now hastily are being sought to be implicated in false cases,” the petition says, according to LiveLaw.