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Chandrababu Naidu’s plea against FIR: HC posts hearing for September 19, asks CID to file reply – Times of India

VIJAYAWADA: The Andhra Pradesh high court on Wednesday posted for September 19, the hearing into TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu‘s plea requesting quashing the FIR registered against him in the multi-crore Skill Development Corporation scam case. The court also directed the CID to file its reply.
The former CM was sent to judicial remand and is currently lodged in a Central Prison in Rajamahendravaram in a case filed by the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID).
Naidu had moved high court challenging the FIR registered against him. He also challenged the trial court order sending him to judicial remand. A lunch motion petition was filed on Tuesday and the high court agreed to hear the petition on Wednesday.
Soon after the call was called out, Justice K Srinivas Reddy asked the counsels of both sides if they have any apprehensions as he had appeared against the petitioner (Naidu) in a case when he was working as public prosecutor.
As both sides did not express any objections on continuing with the bench, senior counsel Siddharth Luthra commenced arguments on behalf of Naidu.
Siddharth started his submissions explaining as to why the trial court order sending Naidu on judicial remand is bad in law by stating section 17A of Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act). Additional advocate general Ponnavolu Sudhakar Reddy immediately responded to Siddharth’s argument by stating that counter affidavit required to be filed in the matter.
Pressing for urgent hearing as the petition contain multiple prayers including the directions for stay of proceedings before the trial court, Siddharth continued his submissions by quoting the provisions of section 17A as amended in the year 2018. Justice Srinivas Reddy observed that 17A is only a procedural aspect.
Responding to the observations from the bench, Siddharth said according to the procedure contemplated in the 17A, the FIR ought not to have been registered without there being a prior approval from the governor when the investigation is pertaining to decisions taken by a public servant as part of discharge of his duties.
By quoting multiple judgements of the Supreme Court and other high courts on the settled principle of law on 17A, Siddharth said that there is a complete bar on registration of crime under PC Act according to section 17A of PC Act.
Siddharth said that the trial court while considering the remand report, failed to appreciate the settled position of law on 17A. The trial court did not consider the legal proposition that 17A should be applied prospectively but not retrospectively. Even the judgement on which the prosecution placed its reliance was in favour of the petitioner, but the trial court applied it differently accepting the argument of additional advocate general, said Siddharth.
Considering the arguments of Siddharth, Justice Srinivas Reddy said that all these issues can be decided only after hearing the other side. He asked Sudhakar Reddy as to how much time he needed. The additional advocate general sought one week to file the counter. However, Siddharth pressed for interim relief as they have questioned the remand itself and a petition has been filed for police custody.
Justice Srinivas Reddy said that without giving the opportunity to other side, he cannot give any orders. In that event, Siddharth pleaded for stay of proceedings in the police custody petition which is slated to be heard by the trial court on Wednesday itself.
Considering the submissions on both sides, Justice Srinivas Reddy allowed the request of Siddharth and stayed proceedings in custody petition filed by CID and posted the matter for further hearing on first working day of next week as there is an ambiguity on holiday for Ganesh Chaturdi. If the holiday is given on Monday, the petitions will come for hearing Tuesday and if the holiday falls on Tuesday, the petitions will be taken up on Monday.

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