AP: After high drama, TDP chief Naidu sent to 14-day judicial custody

The former CM was arrested by the CID around 6 am on Saturday from a marriage hall (outside which his caravan was parked) at Gnanapuram in Nandyala.

Hyderabad: After hours of suspense and intense drama, TDP chief and AP former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Sunday was sent to 14 days in judicial custody by a court in the Skill Development Corporation scam case.

He will be shifted to the Rajahmundry Central Prison. Additional advocate general P Sudhakar Reddy, who argued the case on behalf of the CID, submitted to the court that there was prima facie evidence against Naidu.

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. Naidu’s counsel also argued that no ground was made for invoking the IPC 409 section (criminal breach of trust by public servant).

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He further 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.

The TDP chief himself made submissions before the judge and called his arrest illegal and an act of political vendetta by the YSR Congress Party government.

Naidu alleged that there was “no rule of law in the state as the government was violating the fundamental rights of the citizens.” The former CM 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.

He pleaded for rejecting the remand report terming it a violation of the statutory provisions under section 17-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act and without any prima facie accusation.

In a pre-dawn operation on Saturday at Nandyal, officers knocked on the door of the caravan in which Naidu was sleeping and arrested him for his alleged role in the Skill Development Corporation scam.
The former CM was arrested by the CID around 6 am on Saturday from outside a marriage hall, where his caravan was parked, at Gnanapuram in Nandyal. After an arrest saga of more than 36 hours, the ACB Court gave the remand order around 6.50 pm on Sunday evening.

“It is a clear case of fraud involving Rs 370 crore. The court accepted our arguments, ” Ponnavolu Sudhakar Reddy, AP Additional Advocate General told PTI. Naidu was arrested in connection with a fraud case involving misappropriation of funds from the Skill Development Corporation, leading to a loss of Rs 300 crore to the state government, AP CID Chief N Sanjay said on Saturday.

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 the 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.

Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh and TDP leaders were present in the court.

(With inputs from agencies)

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