APSSDC case: Supreme Court posts ex-CM’s plea on Oct 17

Initially, a whistle-blower wrote to the CBI about the misappropriation and the same was forwarded to the State by the Central agency.
Image of the Supreme Court, used for representational purposes only. (Photo | PTI)
Image of the Supreme Court, used for representational purposes only. (Photo | PTI)

VIJAYAWADA: The Supreme Court on Friday posted a further hearing of the SLP filed by former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu challenging the AP High Court order refusing to quash the FIR registered against him by the APCID in the AP State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) case, on October 17.

When the matter came up for hearing before the bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Andhra Pradesh government, said that Naidu was at the helm of affairs and decisions were taken at his level, which resulted in a more than Rs 300 crore loss to the State exchequer. “He was the Chief Minister of the State when the alleged offence took place. If his attempt to quash the FIR succeeds, the investigation will be nipped in the bud,” Rohatgi submitted.

He said the AP government had come up with a scheme to provide skill training to youth and selected two companies without any tender to set up the skill development centres. Before anything was set up, Rs 370 crore was given away, which was then transferred by the two companies to certain shell companies, which then went back to Naidu. When the bench asked how the State traced the money back to Naidu, Rohatgi said no skill development centre was set up and the money went back to Naidu either fully or partially, and this needs to be investigated.

He added that the State police is not the only agency investigating the case as the Income Tax Department had also found withdrawal of Rs 100 crore by shell companies linked to the two firms. On the applicability of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Rohatgi said it does not provide an umbrella for corruption. “The provision applies only when a public servant says I have taken the decision in the official discharge of duty,” he contended.

He produced two documents — dated May 14, 2018 and June 5, 2018 — before the bench and said inquiry in the case started much before July 2018 when Section 17A was incorporated in the PC Act. Initially, a whistle-blower wrote to the CBI about the misappropriation and the same was forwarded to the State by the Central agency. Rohatgi said Section 17A was born in July 2018 while the offences are from 2015 and 2016 and as such, no benefit of Section 17A can be given because it was not on the statute book at that time.

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