A marathon session of arguments in the ACB court in Vijayawada over former Chief Minsiter N. Chandrababu Naidu’s alleged involvement in the skill development scam ended with the III Additional District and Sessions-cum-ACB Court Judge B.S.V. Himabindu ordering on September 10 that he should be sent to judicial remand for 14 days.
Forceful arguments were made by both sides for almost 10 hours. Additional Advocate-General P. Sudhakar Reddy represented the State/CID and senior advocate Siddharth Luthra and others argued on behalf of the former CM. The CID officials submitted a 28-page remand report to the court earlier in the day, in which he was mentioned as A-37.
The Judge was convinced with the CID’s claim to have had prima facie evidence of Mr. Naidu’s role in the multi-crore scandal, wherein Mr. Naidu and 36 others were accused of swindling about ₹371 crore belonging to the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation in 2014-19 when TDP was in power.
She gave the verdict while hearing a house motion petition filed by Mr. Naidu for quashing the CID remand report on the ground that the due procedures of law had not been followed and that he was falsely implicated in the case for political gains. However, the court dismissed his plea.
Mr. Naidu said in his petition that the remand application filed by CID was in clear violation of Section 17-A of Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988, which mandated an enquiry into offences relatable to recommendations made/decisions taken by public servants in discharge of official duties subject to prior permission of the Governor. He made certain other averments, with which the Judge did not concur.
Shifted to Rajamahendravaram Central Prison
Later in the night, the CID police accompanied by NSG personnel shifted Mr. Naidu to Rajamahendravaram Central Prison amid heavy security.
The police cleared the way en route to Rajamahendravaram from Vijayawada. Considering the age of Mr. Naidu, a team of doctors, including a cardiologist, diabetician, physician and other specialists accompanied the convoy, said Director-General of Police K.V. Rajendranath Reddy.
The court directed the jail superintendent to provide special amenities, including a special room, cooked food from home and necessary security as Mr. Naidu was a Z-Plus category protectee.
“Instructions have been given to the police and the officials concerned to provide necessary medical facilities in the local government hospital in Rajamahendravaram and keep a ward ready in a corporate hospital in case of emergency,” the DGP said.
The police made arrangements to shift Mr. Naidu to the central jail after the court remanded him, even as his team of lawyers prepared to move a bail petition. A high alert had been sounded with the ACB Court giving remand to Mr. Naidu as the TDP had already called for State-wide protests against what it called an illegal arrest driven by political motives.
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The verdict came as a shock to TDP leaders, including former ministers and MLAs, who waited anxiously for it throughout the day, and before the party’s rank and file erupted in protests, police made tight security arrangements at all sensitive public places apart from taking some into custody at the ACB Court to prevent any untoward incident.
Mr. Naidu was arrested in the early hours of Saturday from Nandyal, where he was camping as part of his ‘Babu Surety- Bhavishyath ki Guarantee’ campaign. He was brought to Vijayawada by road, amid high drama all along the route, and questioned for long hours at the AP CID SIT office. He was produced before ACB court after a medical check-up in the early hours of Sunday.