Supreme Court judge Justice SV Bhatti on Wednesday recused from hearing the plea by former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu seeking quashing of the first information report (FIR) registered against him in connection with the skill development scam [Nara Chandrababu Naidu vs State of Andhra Pradesh and anr].
A bench also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna said that Justice Bhatti, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, has some reservations in hearing the case.
The Supreme Court, thus, directed that the matter be listed before another bench subject to the orders of the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
The Andhra Pradesh High Court had earlier this month dismissed the quashing plea by former State Chief Minister, leading to the instant appeal before the apex court.
Justice K Sreenivasa Reddy of the High Court had observed that the acts alleged against Naidu could not be said to have been carried out in discharge of his official duties as Chief Minister (CM).
Therefore, no prior approval from the competent authority was necessary for investigation into the offences alleged, the High Court had held.
The investigation against Naidu centres around a scheme that allegedly diverted government funds intended for a skill development project into various shell companies through fraudulent invoices, which did not correspond with the delivery of services.
He was arrested and later remanded to judicial custody in the matter on September 10.
After the recusal by Justice Bhatti, counsel for the former CM mentioned the matter before CJI DY Chandrachud for urgent listing.
The CJI-led bench eventually proceeded to list the matter for October 3, while making it clear that it would not restrain the trial judge from hearing pending police custody applications filed by the State CID.
Senior Advocates Sidharth Luthra and Harish Salve appeared for Naidu before the apex court today.