The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Friday dismissed a plea by Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu seeking to quash an alleged corruption case, Bar and Bench reported.
The court held that prior approval from the state government was not needed to investigate the case as the acts alleged to have been committed by him could not be said to have been part of his official duties.
The Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department had arrested Naidu on September 9. The Telugu Desam Party chief was alleged to be involved in siphoning off approximately Rs 371 crore belonging to the Skill Development Corporation through fictitious companies when he was the chief minister of the state.
He has been booked under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, and also charged under the sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with the offences of criminal conspiracy, public servant disobeying law, public servant framing an incorrect document, cheating, forgery, causing disappearance of evidence and offering bribe to a public servant.
On September 10, a Vijayawada Anti-Corruption Bureau court had sent him to judicial custody for 14 days.
On Friday, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Naidu, told the High Court that the first information was registered on December 19, 2021 while the former chief minister was only named as an accused person on September 7, according to Bar and Bench.
He also contended that Naidu’s arrest was a “regime revenge investigation” as the authority of the state was being weaponised through the criminal case.
Salve contended that the investigating agency did not take permission from the competent authority required as per Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act before naming Naidu in the case.
However, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the criminal investigation department, argued that Section 17A did not apply to offences allegedly committed before July 26, 2018, which was when the provision into effect. Naidu was the chief minister of the state between 2014 and 2019.
Rohatgi also alleged that the Telugu Desam Party chief was accused of having misappropriated public money as part of a calculated and deliberate scam.
Justice K Sreenivasa Reddy of the High Court said that Section 17A could not apply in cases where the alleged acts lack good faith, reported Bar and Bench.
The High Court also said that the investigating agency has examined more than 140 witnesses and collected about 4,000 documents following the registration of the crime in 2021, reported The Hindu. The court said that due to this, it was not inclined to interfere with the investigation.