Andhra Pradesh govt files plea in Supreme Court against regular bail to Chandrababu Naidu

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The High Court's impugned order has been termed as perverse for it had said no material is placed to substantiate the contention that the petitioner had withdrawn the amount in cash

The Andhra Pradesh government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging regular bail granted to former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in the scam related to setting up of skill development centres.

As per the plea, the High Court in its November 20, 2023 order "has delved deep into facts of the case and has rendered findings that are not only factually incorrect but are also likely to prejudice the court below during the trial".

The state government has claimed that over the course of the investigation, the prosecution has obtained various account statements of the TDP Naidu's party, which show significant cash deposits that correspond to the time period where the misappropriated funds from the project were diverted. 

Naidu and other accused persons and witnesses are being examined to establish the nexus, the plea has contended.

The state government further states that the Income Tax Department has issued a notice of August 04, 2023 to Naidu, categorically noting that he ensured payment was made to shell companies by the main contractors executing works for the government, which would later be transferred in cash.

"It is pertinent to note that various external agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate are conducting their independent investigations into the subject crime. The Enforcement Directorate has instituted a complaint, and is taking steps to trace the money trail in the present scam," the plea claimed.

Andhra Pradesh has also said that the High Court has "completely erred in granting bail to Naidu, as being an influential person, he has ensured that two of his key associates, including a government servant, have already fled the country and therefore clearly obstructed the conduct of investigation.

"By way of the impugned judgment, the HC has grossly exceeded the judicially settled parameters of its jurisdiction while grant of exercise of bail. The practice of detailed elaboration of evidence in bail orders has been repeatedly deprecated by this court," the petition submits.

The TDP leader was arrested on September 8 this year on the basis of the FIR lodged on December 9, 2021, relating to alleged Rs 371 Cr scam in setting up skill development centres.

Supreme Court had already reserved its judgement on Naidu's plea contending the initiation of the enquiry and the registration of the FIR was non est as both have been undertaken without a mandatory approval under Section 17-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, as amended on July 26, 2018.