Amaravati, Sep 19 (IANS) The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday resumed hearing on a petition by former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu for quashing of his judicial remand in alleged Skill Development Corporation scam.
The hearing in the hybrid model began before noon. Appearing on behalf of Naidu, Harish Salve was virtually presenting his arguments.
He argued that the case against Naidu is politically motivated with an eye on the upcoming elections. Salve was making arguments on Section 17A of Prevention of Corruption Act.
During the previous hearing, Siddharth Luthra had appeared on behalf of Naidu. He had called Naidu’s arrest illegal.
While the CID sought time to file counter to the quash petition, the High Court had allowed the time and adjourned the hearing to September 19.
The court had also stayed the hearing of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) petition in Vijayawada ACB court seeking custody of Naidu, who is currently lodged in Rajahmundry Central Jail.
Alleging that he was being targeted by the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government out of political vendetta, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo has sought orders to set aside his judicial custody and also quash the FIR registered by the CID.
Naidu was arrested in the case by the CID in Nandyal on September 9. The next day, ACB Court in Vijayawada sent him to judicial custody for 14 days. The former chief minister was subsequently shifted to Rajahmundry Central Jail.
The Vijayawada Court had also rejected Naidu’s plea for house custody instead of judicial custody.
The case relates to the establishment of clusters of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) in the state of Andhra Pradesh, with a total estimated project value of Rs 3,300 crore when Naidu was the chief minister.
The CID claimed that the alleged fraud has caused a huge loss of Rs 371 crore to the state government. The agency claimed that an advance of Rs 371 crore, representing the entire 10 per cent commitment by the government for the project, was released before any expenditure by the private entities.
According to the CID, most of the money released by the government as advance was diverted to shell companies through fake invoices, with no actual delivery or sale of the items mentioned in the invoices, CID officials said.
The CID mentioned in its remand report that the total amount spent by private entities on six skill development clusters is sourced exclusively from funds advanced by the state government and the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Centre, totalling Rs 371 crore.
The Vijayawada ACB Court is likely to take up for hearing Naidu’s bail petition later Tuesday. It is also likely to hear CID’s petition for Naidu’s custody.
Meanwhile, the High Court adjourned hearing on Naidu’s anticipatory bail petition in the Amaravati Inner Ring Road case to September 21.
During the previous hearing, the court directed the CID to file its counter.
The CID had filed a Prisoner Transit (PT) warrant petition in Vijayawada ACB Court on September 11 in the Amaravati Inner Ring Road case.
In May 2022, the CID had registered an FIR against Chandrababu Naidu, former municipal administration minister Dr P. Narayana, Heritage Foods Ltd, and 12 others, for alleged irregularities in the construction of an internal ring road in Amaravati.
The FIR was filed based on a complaint from YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) Mangalgiri MLA A. Rama Krishna Reddy. It was alleged that certain illegal and corrupt activities were committed by highly placed government officials between 2014 and 2019 with regard to the design of master plan for the Andhra Pradesh capital and alignment of the ring road to cause wrongful gain to certain individuals.
Heritage Foods is a company owned by Chandrababu Naidu’s family.
The ruling party has accused Naidu of large-scale irregularities in land acquisition and other aspects in development of the state capital Amavati.
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