ACB Court remands former AP CM Naidu for 14 days in graft cases
In a big blow to former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and President of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) N Chandrababu Naidu, the ACB Court in Vijayawada has remanded him for 14 days in the skill development scam.
Following the ruling by the court, Naidu will be shifted to Rajahmundry Central Jail. The police have made elaborate arrangements, positioning hundreds of personnel along the roads leading to Rajahmundry. The court rejected the appeal by Naidu.
Meanwhile, the CID has moved a petition, seeking the custody of Naidu for interrogation. The lawyers of Naidu have appealed to the court for granting house arrest. They are likely to move a bail petition on Monday.
Earlier, Naidu argued that he had nothing to do with the case and Section 409 of IPC (Indian Penal Code) would not apply in this case as it was a policy decision and the decision was taken by the Cabinet.
The CID police cited several sections, including Section 409, in the remand report as they produced Naidu in the court.
The row was over the setting up of skilling centres by the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation in 2014-15. The TDP government sanctioned 10 per cent for the ₹3,500 crore project which was to be implemented by Digitech and Siemens.
After a marathon 7-hour hearing of arguments by the two sides and four hours, B S V Himabindu, the III Additional District and Sessions Judge-cum-Judge of the ACB Court, had reserved the order at about 2.30 pm. Delivering the order at 7 pm, the judge has remanded the former Chief Minister.
In a dramatic turn of events, Chandrababu Naidu was arrested in the early hours of Saturday from a function hall at Nandyal and was taken to Vijayawada. The police produced him in the court at about 6 am. The detention of Naidu triggered an uproar in the State with thousands of TDP activists holding protests across the State.
Tension prevailed in Vijayawada, particularly around the ACB court, which witnessed intense arguments by the advocates belonging to the State Government and Naidu.
Senior Supreme Court advocate Siddharth Luthra, who led a battery of lawyers defending Naidu, challenged the report and the sections mentioned in it against Chandrababu Naidu. Appealing the court to reject the remand report, he alleged that there was no evidence against his client and that the police were trying to implicate him in the case.
A significant part of the discussions was around Section 409 of the (IPC), which deals with criminal breach of trust by a public servant, who can be charged with criminal breach of trust. The police have already arrested some persons allegedly involved in the graft case.
Arguing for himself, Naidu alleged that the case against him was politically motivated and that the establishment of the Corporation was a Cabinet decision and had nothing to do with the case.
After shifting Chandrababu Naidu to the CID office in Vijayawada on Saturday morning, the police grilled him about the case at their office, before taking him to the court on Sunday morning.
The Enforcement Directorate too is parallelly investigating the alleged financial fraud. The case pertained to an agreement between the Corporation and Siemens during 2014-15, which sought to set up skill development centres. The CID alleged that some of the accused (over 35 persons) set up shell companies to divert funds that were allotted to the scheme. It said the government released funds even before the private party chipped in its contribution.
The CID alleged that the former Chief Minister played a key role in a graft case involving the AP State Skill Development Corporation case where an amount of ₹371 crore was allegedly siphoned off using a network of shell companies.
Thousands of TDP activists held protests across the State. Social media was flooded with posts and comments supporting and opposing the former Chief Minister’s arrest. Hundreds of police personnel have been pressed into service in around the court and in some other parts of the city. Scores of TDP activists and leaders gathered at the court as intense arguments were exchanged in the court hall.
Hundreds of TDP leaders were detained by the police in several districts. Jana Sena President Pawan Kalyan, leaders of CPI have condemned the arrest of Chandrababu Naidu.