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Skill development scam: Chandrababu Naidu's family threatening officials, Andhra govt tells SC, urges court to cancel bail

New Delhi: The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday told the Supreme Court that the family of former Chief Minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is "threatening" state officials and urged it to cancel his bail in the Skill Development Corporation scam case.
A bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal was told by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the state government, that threats were being issued to officials in view of the upcoming state elections.
It was alleged that the Naidu family has vowed retribution against officers of the State involved in the investigation against the TDP supremo, once the party assumes power after the upcoming elections.
He submitted that such threats should not be taken lightly, especially given the impending elections that the TDP is contesting.
"The family of the accused is openly saying that when we come to power, we will take action against all these officers who have participated in the investigation and taken statements.... The benefit of liberty of bail cannot accrue to persons who are going to make such threatening statements just before the ensuing elections in which these people are a contesting party. This is very serious," said Rohatgi.
Hearing the matter, the top court granted Naidu two weeks to respond to these allegations. The bench said the state government can file a rejoinder to Naidu's reply within a week thereafter and posted the matter for hearing on March 19.
The top court was hearing an appeal of the Andhra Pradesh government challenging a High Court order granting regular bail to Naidu in the Skill Development Corporation scam case.
On November 28, 2024, the apex court sought a response from Naidu and directed the continuation of the bail condition imposed by the High Court on Naidu to not make public comments or speak to the media about the case.
However, the apex court refused to impose the other bail condition, prohibiting him from organising or participating in political rallies or meetings.
The Andhra Pradesh government had approached the top court against the High Court order allowing Naidu's release on bail in the Skill Development case on November 20.
The Andhra Pradesh High Court had converted Naidu's four-week interim medical bail in the case into absolute bail and ordered the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief's release on regular bail, considering his age, old age-related ailments, non-flight risk, and other reasons.
The Andhra Pradesh government, while seeking direction to set aside the High Court order, said Naidu is an influential person and "has ensured that two of his key associates, including a government servant, have already fled the country.".
Naidu was arrested on September 9, 2023, and released on interim medical bail on October 31, which is now made regular.
He is accused of misappropriating funds from the Skill Development Corporation, which resulted in a purported loss of over Rs 300 crore to the state exchequer.

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