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Skill Development scam: SC delivers split verdict on TDP chief's plea against HC order

Skill Development scam: SC delivers split verdict on TDP chiefs plea against HC order

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a split verdict on former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu's plea challenging the high court order refusing to quash the FIR against him in the Skill Development Corporation scam case.

The two-judge bench, headed by Justice Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi in their verdict, disagreed with each other's opinion and applicability of section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act in the case.

The justices therefore agreed to refer the matter to the Chief Justice of India.

Section 17A was introduced by an amendment with effect from July 26, 2018 and the provision stipulates a mandatory requirement for a police officer to seek prior approval from the competent authority for conducting any enquiry or inquiry or investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

Justice Bose in his order allowed Naidu's appeal, while Justice Trivedi dismissed his appeal.

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Justice Bose said prior approval for conducting probe for the alleged offences under the PC Act against Naidu was needed.

"However, I refuse to quash the remand order. The lack of approval will not make the remand order non-est," Justice Bose said, while granting liberty to the state to seek such approval.

Pronouncing the verdict, Justice Trivedi said section 17A will not apply retrospectively and upheld the high court order refusing to quash the FIR.

"The impugned order of remand and impugned judgement of the high court does not suffer from any illegality," Justice Trivedi said while dismissing Naidu's appeal.

The bench said in view of divergent opinions, the matter be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate directions.

Naidu was arrested on September 9 last year by the state crime investigation department (CID) for allegedly misappropriating funds from the Skill Development Corporation when he was the Chief Minister in 2015, causing a purported loss of Rs 371 crore to the state exchequer.

Naidu has denied the allegations.

Naidu had moved the top court challenging the September 22, 2023 High Court order dismissing his petition for quashing the FIR against him in connection with the alleged scam.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court had on November 20 last year granted him regular bail in the case.

While dismissing his petition, the high court had said criminal proceedings ought not to be scuttled at the initial stage and quashing an FIR should be an exception rather than the rule.

With PTI inputs

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TAGS:Chandrababu NaiduSupreme CourtIndia NewsSkill Development Case
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