Telugu Desam Party president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who was produced in a Vijayawada Anti-Corruption Bureau court on Sunday morning after his arrest, told the court that he has been falsely implicated for political gains. Citing technicalities under statutory provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and claiming there is no “well-founded accusation” against him, Mr Naidu requested that the court reject the remand report submitted by the prosecuting agency.
Any enquiry or investigation relating to offences linked to recommendations made or decision taken by a public servant in discharge of official duties or functions has to be done after a sanction from the person competent to remove him from his office, Mr Naidu’s lawyer argued, citing Section 17-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
“The petitioner was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh when the alleged offence alleged to have been committed and the person who removes the Chief Minister from Office is his majesty i.e., the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and hence the prosecution has to obtain prior sanction of the Governor even to initiate an enquiry/investigation in the above case. Hence, there is a statutory violation and hence the remand has to be rejected,” Supreme Court lawyer Siddarth Luthra, who is representing Mr Naidu along with a team of advocates, argued.
The alleged offences relate to a policy decision taken and approved by the state cabinet, making it a decision of the state government, which, therefore, can’t be questioned by initiating criminal proceedings, Mr Luthra further submitted.
The Rs 360 crore which is in contention was allocated to the Department of Skill Entrepreneurship and Innovation by the state government, and incorporated into the 2015-16 state budget, he said, adding that the same was voted by the Legislature and hence it can’t be questioned by initiating criminal proceedings.
No role has been attributed to the accused in the official complaint and the police’s remand report on siphoning the funds, Mr Luthra argued. The First Information Report, or FIR, registered on December 9, 2021, also has no allegation against Mr Naidu, he said.
“No criminal complaint can be made and maintained relating to acts done in discharge of official duties, and if there is any misuse of funds at any level, the same has to be dealt in a different manner but not by way of prosecuting a Hon’ble Chief Minister,” Siddarth Luthra’s petition to the court read.
The TDP chief was arrested in connection with an alleged Rs 300-crore Skill Development Corporation scam after a pre-dawn police operation at Gnanapuram in Nandyala on Saturday. He was arrested by the CID around 6 am from a marriage hall, outside which his caravan was parked.
Mr Naidu has been named the ‘principal conspirator’ in the case.