Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Plea Results in Split Supreme Court Verdict, Judges Differ on the Applicability of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Case Title: Nara Chandrababu Naidu v.  State of Andhra Pradesh & Anr. 

Case No: Special Leave Petition (Criminal) Appeal No.12289 of 2023

Decided on: 16th  January, 2024


Facts of the Case

Nara Chandrababu Naidu, president of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, was arrested in connection with a skill development scam. The state crime investigation department claims evidence of his involvement in embezzling around Rs 371 crore from the Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation during the TDP’s rule from 2014 to 2019. Naidu is the 37th accused in a 2021 FIR related to the multi-crore scam. He was arrested on September 9 and remains in custody, with his judicial remand extended until October 5. The Andhra Pradesh High Court dismissed Naidu’s plea to quash the FIR in September 2023, stating that prior sanction for investigation was not necessary as the alleged misuse of public funds for personal gain did not constitute an official duty. Naidu has challenged this ruling in the Supreme Court.


The main issue revolves around the retrospective application and interpretation of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act in the case of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.

Court’s analysis and decision

The Supreme Court has referred the plea of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, seeking to quash an FIR in the skill development scam case, to a larger bench. Naidu was arrested in connection with the case by the state crime investigation department (CID) and remained in custody until interim medical bail was granted. The bench, comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M Trivedi, issued separate judgments. Justice Bose emphasized the need for prior sanction under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, stating that Naidu could not be prosecuted without such approval. However, Justice Trivedi disagreed, arguing that Section 17A should not be applied retrospectively.

In the dispute over Section 17A, Justice Trivedi asserted that the provision’s protection should not extend to acts outside the official duties of a public servant. She dismissed Naidu’s appeal, stating that the absence of prior approval should not be a ground for quashing the FIR or ongoing proceedings, especially when additional charges under the Indian Penal Code are involved. Due to the divergence in interpretation, the matter will be referred to a larger bench. Meanwhile, Naidu’s plea for anticipatory bail in the FiberNet scam case is pending, and the Supreme Court directed him to refrain from discussing sub judice matters in the public domain during the state government’s challenge to his regular bail in the skill development scam case.

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Written by- Afshan Ahmad

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