Today, the Supreme Court (SC) of India refused the urgent mention of the petition filed by the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu. The petition seeks to quash the FIR registered against him in connection with the skill development scam case. The FIR was registered by the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID). Today (September 25, 2023), the matter was mentioned before the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud for urgent listing by Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra appearing for Naidu. While oral-mentioning of the case, SA Luthra highlighted the urgency of the matter stating, “This is a case related to the state of Andhra Pradesh where the opposition is being curbed…he was arrested on September 8.” The CJI refused the mention and asked SA Luthra to mention the case tomorrow, “Come tomorrow in the mentioning list.”
On September 23, Naidu approached the SC against the High Court’s order refusing to quash the FIR and order of his judicial remand in the case. He used the words “an orchestrated campaign of regime revenge and to derail the largest opposition, the Telugu Desam Party,” to define the action against him. According to the petition filed before the top Court, Naidu was arrested in an illegal manner for political reasons. It also highlighted that both the registration and initiation of the enquiry were initiated without mandatory approval under Section 17-A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The petition stated that “Section 17-A provides a filter from vexatious litigation. The present scenario of regime revenge and political vendetta is exactly what Section 17-A seeks to restrict by protecting innocent persons. The initiation of investigation without such approval vitiates the entire proceedings since inception and the same is a jurisdictional error.”
Earlier this month, the leader of the opposition party Telugu Desom Party (TDP) was arrested and has been under custody since then. He is an accused in the FIR lodged in 2021 by the AP CID. The plea of the petitioner, opposition party leader, contended that “The extent of the political vendetta is further demonstrated from the belated application for grant of police custody on September 11, 2023, which named the political opponent i.e. the TDP and also the petitioner’s family, which is being targeted to crush all opposition to the party in power in the State with elections coming near in 2024.” Determining that the HC had erred the decision, it added, “The High Court has at one point observed that exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C., it is not required to do a mini-trial but yet has recorded detailed factual submissions which had no relevance to the challenge of the legal bar raised and itself conducted a mini-trial to arbitrarily assume without basis that Petitioner has made ‘personal benefits’ for himself.”
The petition also highlighted that “The CID is threatening the officers and others to implicate the petitioner, his family, and the party. The continuing political vendetta by the State Administration is demonstrated from the fact that various senior leaders of the petitioner’s party have in the past been arrested and now hastily are being sought to be implicated in false cases.” After hearing the contentions, the CJI asked SA Luthra to come again tomorrow to mention the matter.