Vijayawada, September 10 (IANS) Arguments continued in ACB Court here on Sunday over the arrest of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in Skill Development Corporation scam case.
The arguments which began around 6 a.m. were continuing for more than six hours. While the prosecution sought 15-day judicial custody of Naidu, the TDP leader’s counsel opposed the same.
The Crime Investigation Department (CID) produced Naidu before the court nearly 24 hours after taking him into custody.
The TDP chief himself made submissions before the judge. He called his arrest illegal and an act of political vendetta by the YSR Congress Party government.
Naidu alleged that there is no rule of law in the state as the government is violating the fundamental rights of the citizens. The former chief minister also submitted to the court that the funds for skill development projects were provided in the state budget for 2015-16 and argued that the budget passed by the Assembly can’t be called a criminal act.
Appearing on behalf of Naidu, senior Supreme Court lawyer Sidharth Luthra argued that the CID did not take permission from the Governor before arresting the leader of the opposition.
Additional Advocate General P. Sudhakar Reddy, who argued the case on behalf of the CID, submitted to the court that there is prima facie evidence against Naidu.
The judge wanted to know why Naidu was not arrested since December 2021 when the case was registered.
The judge continued hearing the arguments from both sides after two short breaks of 15 minutes each.
Sidharth Luthra argued that Naidu was falsely implicated for political gains for the alleged offences under IPC sections 166, 167, 418, 420, 465, 468, 471, 409, 201, 109 read with 120 (B) and sections 13 (2) read with 13 (1) (c) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act.
He pleaded for rejecting the remand report terming it violation of the statutory provisions under section 17-A of Prevention of Corruption Act and without any prima facie accusation.
Naidu’s counsel also argued that no ground was made for invoking IPC 409 section (Criminal breach of trust by public servant).
The CID in its remand report informed the court that though Naidu was arraigned in the FIR as 37th accused, he is the chief architect and conspirator of the offence.
The agency called it a case of criminal conspiracy with a common object and intent for criminal breach of trust and dishonest and or fraudulent misappropriation of public funds.
During the course of investigation, 141 witnesses have been examined so far and their statements were recorded. On verification of the documents and examining the witnesses, investigation disclosed that the accused Chandrababu Naidu orchestrated the deep-rooted conspiracy by playing a key role at various stages in collusion with other accused, with a preconceived plan aimed at siphoning off of the funds released from the public exchequer towards the project, the CID said.
Chandrababu Naidu requested the judge that his statement be recorded in the court. He stated that his arrest is illegal. Denying his involvement in Skill Development scam, he called the arrest a political vendetta.
Amid tight security, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo was brought to the court complex from the SIT office, where he was kept for the entire night.
Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh and TDP leaders were present in the court.
Naidu, who was arrested in Nandyal town early Saturday, was brought to Vijayawada on Saturday evening. Since then, the CID officials continued questioning him at the SIT office.
TDP leaders alleged that the police deliberately delayed the process of producing him in the court and denied him sleep.
The former chief minister was shifted to Vijayawada Government Hospital around 3 a.m. for medical examination. After the medical examination, Naidu was taken back to the SIT office around 5 a.m. though his family members and the TDP leaders were hoping that he would be taken to the court.
An hour later, Naidu was brought to the ACB Court. Police made tight security around the court complex. TDP leaders who had gathered there were removed by the police.
The CID has arrested Naidu in Rs 331 crore Skill Development Corporation scam, which allegedly took place between 2014 and 2018 when he was the chief minister.
According to the CID, public funds were released and diverted to shell companies. It alleged that Naidu and TDP were the ultimate beneficiaries.