Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday adjourned to September 19 the hearing on a quash petition by former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in alleged Skill Development Corporation scam.
The court also stayed the hearing of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) petition in Vijayawada ACB court seeking custody of Naidu, who is
currently lodged in Rajahmundry Central Jail.
Alleging that he was being targetted by the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government out of political vendetta, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo has sought orders to set aside his judicial custody and also quash the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the CID.
The CID sought time to file counter to the quash petition. While allowing time to the CID, the High Court adjourned the hearing to September 19.
Naidu was arrested in the case by the CID in Nandyal on September 9. The next day, ACB Court in Vijayawada sent him to judicial custody for 14 days. The former chief minister was subsequently shifted to Rajahmundry Central Jail.
The Vijayawada Court on Tuesday rejected Naidu’s plea for house custody instead of judicial custody. Naidu’s counsel had cited a threat to his life
in the jail but the government had conveyed to the court that all security measures were in place.
The CID had filed a petition in Vijayawada Court seeking Naidu’s custody for five days for further questioning in the case.
When Naidu’s counsel Sidharth Luthra brought this to the notice of the High Court on Wednesday, it directed the lower court not to take up hearing on the CID petition till September 18.
The case relates to the establishment of clusters of Centers of Excellence (CoEs) in the state of Andhra Pradesh, with a total estimated project value of Rs 3300 crore when Naidu was the chief minister.
The CID claimed that the alleged fraud has caused a huge loss of Rs 371 crore to the state government. The agency claimed that an advance of Rs 371 crore, representing the entire 10 per cent commitment by the government for the project, was released before any expenditure by the private
entities. According to the CID, most of the money released by the government as advance was diverted to shell companies through fake invoices, with no actual delivery or sale of the items mentioned in the invoices, CID officials said.
The CID mentioned in its remand report that the total amount spent by private entities on six skill development clusters is sourced exclusively
from funds advanced by the state government and the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Centre, totalling Rs 371 crore.
Meanwhile, the High Court also adjourned to September 19 hearing on another petition by Naidu for anticipatory bail in the Amaravati Inner Ring Road case.
The court directed the CID to file its counter and adjourned the hearing till next week.
The CID had filed a Prisoner Transit (PT) warrant petition in Vijayawada ACB Court on Monday in Amaravati Inner Ring Road case.
In May 2022, the CID had registered an FIR against Chandrababu Naidu, former municipal administration minister Dr P. Narayana, Heritage Foods
Ltd, and 12 others, for alleged irregularities in the construction of an internal ring road in Amaravati.
The FIR was filed based on a complaint from YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) Mangalgiri MLA A. Rama Krishna Reddy. It was alleged that certain illegal and corrupt activities were committed by highly placed government officials between 2014 and 2019 with regard to the design of master plan for the Andhra Pradesh capital and alignment of the ring road to cause wrongful gain to certain individuals. Heritage Foods is a company owned by Chandrababu Naidu’s family.
The ruling party has accused Naidu of large scale irregularities in land acquisition and other aspects in development of the state capital Amavati.