In the ongoing legal drama involving TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu and the Skill Development Corporation scandal, there have been recent developments worth highlighting. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court made a significant choice to postpone the hearing of Naidu’s plea, in which he contested an Andhra Pradesh High Court ruling that had dismissed his request to invalidate an FIR against him in connection with the Skill Development Corporation case.
The panel, composed of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi, directed senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who was representing the Andhra Pradesh government, to furnish all the evidence that had been presented to the high court regarding this case. Rohatgi opposed Naidu’s plea, affirming that section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act should not be relevant. He argued that this provision became effective in July 2018, whereas the CBI had commenced its investigation into the matter in 2017.
Seasoned attorneys Harish Salve, Abhishek Singhvi, and Siddharth Luthra, who stood for Naidu, contended that all the accusations in the FIR related to choices, directives, or suggestions made by Naidu during his time as the state’s chief executive. They claimed that this situation had a political aspect, and therefore, the clauses of section 17A should be applicable.
Luthra also highlighted that Naidu had been embroiled in numerous FIRs, implying a distinct shift in the political scenario. Consequently, the panel opted to reconsider the matter on the subsequent Monday.
N Chandrababu Naidu, who is 73 years old, was apprehended on September 9 on charges of embezzling funds from the Skill Development Corporation during his tenure as chief executive in 2015. These allegations purportedly resulted in a loss of ₹371 crore to the state treasury. His judicial custody has been extended by the trial court until October 5.
The CID, in its remand report, accused Naidu of participating in a criminal conspiracy with the aim of misappropriating government funds, disposing of property under the supervision of a public official, and engaging in fraud, counterfeiting documents, and obliterating evidence.
Naidu, who also serves as the Telugu Desam Party chief, had sought relief from the Supreme Court on September 23. His appeal aimed to challenge the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s decision to dismiss his request for the FIR related to the alleged scandal to be nullified.