22 Sep 2023 9:06 AM GMT
The Andhra Pradesh High Court today dismissed the quashing plea filed by former state Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu in connection with the multi-crore Skill Development Scam case.Justice K. Sreenivas Reddy observed that no sanction to prosecute Naidu is required as use of public funds "under the colour of authority but really for his own benefit" cannot...
The Andhra Pradesh High Court today dismissed the quashing plea filed by former state Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu in connection with the multi-crore Skill Development Scam case.
Justice K. Sreenivas Reddy observed that no sanction to prosecute Naidu is required as use of public funds "under the colour of authority but really for his own benefit" cannot be considered as an act done in discharge of his official functions.
Naidu had claimed that sanction to prosecute him was not obtained by the prosecution under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption. It was also submitted that no case is made out against him since the project in question was up and running and it could not be said that public money was misappropriated.
Rejecting the plea, Court said, "decision taken or recommendation made by petitioner to grant sanction for payment of money on the basis of the documents and committing misappropriation of amount cannot be considered as acts done by him in discharge of his official duties or functions. Therefore, no prior approval from the competent authority was necessary for investigation into the offences alleged."
State had urged the Court not to scuttle with investigation in only 10 days since its registration.
Agreeing, the Court said that an accused, in this case Naidu, has no right to demand a preliminary enquiry and the question whether such enquiry is required or not, will depend on facts and circumstances of each case. It said in instances representing "serious economical offences", the approach has to be different, more particularly when the investigation is at nascent stage.
"Preliminary enquiry cannot be said to be an added requirement before registration of an FIR even in corruption cases and that if the information received discloses commission of a cognizable offence, police officer can directly register a case without conducting a preliminary enquiry."
It is alleged that Naidu conspired with the other accused to misappropriate funds from the public exchequer. For a project, which could be executed at a cost of only Rs.110.00 to Rs.130.00 crores, a false façade was created that it is worth Rs.3,300.00 crores. A work order of Rs.371.00 crores was given on nomination basis. Of this, at least Rs.241.00 crores was misappropriated, Court has noted in its order.
Court said in face of such disputed facts, it cannot conduct a mini-trial. "The investigating agency, pursuant to the registration of the crime in the year 2021, examined as many as more than 140 witnesses and collected documents to the tune of more than 4000. Profligacy is such an esoteric subject, where investigation has to be carried with utmost proficiency by the professionals. At this stage, where the investigation is on fulcrum of attaining finality, this Court is not inclined to interfere with the impugned proceedings."
Click Here To Read Order