Former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has been arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with the Skill Development Corporation scam. The CID arrested Naidu in Nandyal, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) said on Saturday.
The TDP chief was arrested at around 6 a.m. in the morning following high drama after midnight. After the CBI officials reached a function hall at Nandyal late yesterday night and served an arrest warrant to Naidu, they were prevented from taking him into custody by the TDP supporters.
Before police took him in custody, Naidu took to X (formally Twitter), and wrote, “For the past 45 years, I have selflessly served Telugu people. I am prepared to sacrifice my life to safeguard the interests of Telugu people. No force on earth can stop me from serving Telugu people, my #AndhraPradesh and my motherland.”
Several cases have been registered against him under sections 120(b), 166, 167, 418, 420, 465, 468, 201, and 109, along with 34 and 37 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 have also been invoked against him.
The authorities are preparing to shift Naidu to Vijayawada jail in the convoy under NSG security.
After his arrest, Naidu’s counsel said, “CID has taken Chandrababu for a medical check-up after high blood pressure and diabetes were detected. We are approaching the High Court for bail.”
Meanwhile, several TDP leaders have also been placed under house arrest following the arrest of Chandrababu Naidu by Andhra Pradesh CID in connection with the skill development case.
The Case Against TDP Chief
During 2014–15, an agreement was signed with the TDP-led Andhra government to set up Centres of Excellence for Skill development training with two companies involved – Siemens India Software Ltd and Design Tech. They projected the project would cost about Rs. 3356 crores. The SISW & DT would sponsor 90 per cent of the cost of the project. The Government of Andhra Pradesh had to pay only 10 per cent of the cost to the tune of Rs 371 crores.
Nara Chandrababu Naidu has been referred to as accused number one in the case and is facing allegations of corruption and misleading the cabinet in a scam that has rocked the state.
The allegations against Naidu and others involved in the case include manipulating contracts, misappropriating public money, and orchestrating a fraudulent scheme under the guise of the Skill Development Corporation.
Government agencies such as GST, Intelligence, IT, ED, and SEBI, among others, have all conducted thorough investigations into this scam. The authorities have successfully repatriated looted funds that were stashed abroad.
This scandal came to light just two months after Chandrababu Naidu assumed power in June 2014.
Siemens, a major player in this scandal, conducted an internal inquiry and provided a statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) before a Magistrate.
Siemens emphasized that their company had no involvement in the Joint Venture (JVO) or the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) issued by the government.
One of the central issues in this case is the manner in which a note from Skill Development, showing the estimated cost as a Detailed Project Report (DPR), was presented to the cabinet, bypassing established government procedures.
This irregularity, combined with the swift approval and release of funds, has raised serious questions regarding adherence to rules, regulations, and due process.
Furthermore, the contract and government orders appear to be at odds, as funds were released without a clear contractual basis. Allegations suggest that Naidu gave orders for the immediate release of funds, even when objections were raised by finance department officials.
Key officials within the government, including the Finance Principal Secretary and the Chief Secretary, have reportedly played a role in facilitating the release of funds. However, the whereabouts of these funds remain unknown.
It has also come to light that over 70 transactions involving this money occurred through shell companies. A whistleblower had previously reported this skill development scam to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in the state.
Additionally, a government whistleblower issued a similar warning in June 2018. Unfortunately, initial investigations into these claims were set aside.
In a troubling twist, notefiles related to the project were allegedly destroyed when these investigations commenced.
Further complicating matters, companies such as PVSP/Skiller and DesignTech, which played a significant role in the Skill Scam, have claimed Cenvat without paying service tax.
Suspicion arose when GST officials noticed irregularities in the company’s transactions, which were eventually revealed to involve money transfers through Hawala channels as early as 2017.
(With Inputs from News18’s Ramana Kumar PV)