Ex-Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has been sent to judicial custody for 14 days over with the Rs 371 crore skill development corporation scam case. The Telugu Desam Party leader – produced before an anti-corruption court in Vijayawada – is being taken to the Rajahmundry jail.
Mr Naidu was produced before the court this morning amid tight security; he was represented by a legal team that included Supreme Court lawyer Siddarth Luthra. He told the court he had been falsely implicated and cited legal technicalities with reference to the Prevention of Corruption Act, to claim “no well-founded accusation” and request the court reject the prosecuting agency’s remand report.
The TDP leader’s lawyers had argued that since he was Chief Minister at the time of the alleged offences, sanction to investigate – ” a public servant in discharge of official duties” – could only have been given by “the person who removes the Chief Minister from office… i.e., the Governor of Andhra Pradesh”.
The prosecution had not done so and, therefore, “there is a statutory violation and hence the remand has to be rejected,” Mr Naidu’s lawyers had told the court.
Andhra Pradesh Police’s Crime Investigation Department said Mr Naidu, who is 73 years old, was non-cooperative during interrogation and replied vaguely saying that he did not remember certain issues.
The remand report also referred to Mr Naidu refusing an offer of a helicopter to take him from Nandyal, where he was arrested, to the court in Vijayawada. He was then taken by road and the police have pointed to obstructions by TDP workers as “an intimidation of law officials by virtue of his position”.
“He was asked questions based on files that form part of the evidence in this case diary. But, to all the questions, he was non-cooperative and replied vaguely – that he could not recollect facts. In this regard, the report was drafted in the presence of the mediators and duly attested by him,” the prosecutors said.
The remand report did, however, acknowledge that Mr Naidu is not a flight risk.