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Chandrababu Naidu granted regular bail in AP skill development case

Chandrababu Naidu granted regular bail in AP skill development case
20 Nov 2023

The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday granted regular bail to former chief minister and leader of the opposition N Chandrababu Naidu in the alleged Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) scam case.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief was arrested on September 9 and granted four weeks interim bail on October 31 on medical grounds.

He is reportedly seeking treatment in Telangana's Hyderabad for cataracts, skin allergies, and other health issues.

Why does this story matter?

Months after coming to power in 2014 for the third time, Naidu established the APSSDC and signed a deal with Siemens India and other companies to build skill development centers for Rs. 3,356 crore. After YS Jagan Mohan Reddy came to power in 2019, he claimed in the assembly the APSSDC was a scam, and Naidu was its main beneficiary. The Andhra Pradesh Police's Central Investigation Department (CID) alleged Naidu siphoned Rs. 371cr of government funds to his shell companies.

No evidence to prove funds sent to TDP's accounts: HC

AP HC Justice T Mallikarjun Rao ruled there was no evidence to establish the swindled funds were sent to the TDP's accounts.

He stated, "Such serious allegations should be backed by substantial material before seeking the remand of the petitioner."

To recall, the interim bail prohibited Naidu from engaging in political activities or delivering speeches until November 28—his next scheduled appearance.

But the regular bail removed these restrictions; he will no longer have to appear before authorities on November 28.

HC demands clarification from prosecution
What Next?

The prosecution submitted a Forensic Audit report highlighting that Siemens India and DesignTech Systems, which signed a memorandum of understanding with the APSSDC, diverted Rs. 241 crore out of the Rs. 371 crore to shell companies.

The court observed these companies' failure to deliver high-end technology to trainers was not the prosecution's case.

"The prosecution needs to clarify...how the differences outlined in the report can be deemed the fundamental cause for the alleged misappropriation of funds," it said.

Witch-hunt by YSRCP against Naidu: TDP

The case has kicked up a political controversy in Andhra Pradesh wherein TDP leaders have accused the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) of carrying out a witch-hunt against Naidu on false allegations.

In addition to the skill development case, Naidu faces charges in two other corruption cases—the Fibernet scam and the Inner Ring Road scam.

The Fibernet case concerns the alleged manipulation of tenders in awarding a work order worth Rs. 330 crore under the Andhra Pradesh FiberNet Project Phase-1.