SC seeks Virbhadra’s reply on CBI plea against Himachal HC order

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on two petitions filed by CBI against the High Court order granting protection from arrest and other relief to him and his wife in a disproportionate assets case.

A bench comprising justices F M I Kalifulla and U U Lalit issued notice to the state government and fixed the petitions of CBI for hearing on November 5.

It however, did not allow the plea of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for CBI, that the order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court be stayed.

The agency had filed a transfer petition and a special leave petition in the apex court seeking transferring the case against Singh from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi and setting aside of the order passed by the state high court, respectively.

In its plea, the CBI had said that the high court order has virtually stalled the investigation process by granting relief such as protection from arrest and no interrogation of accused without its prior permission.

It had said that the high court not only restrained CBI from arresting Singh but also embargoed it from filing charge sheet without its prior leave.

The Himachal Pradesh HC had on October 1 restrained CBI from arresting Singh and his wife in the DA case but had allowed the enquiry in the matter to proceed with a direction that the court be informed before interrogating the couple.

Singh had filed a petition in the HC pleading that raids on his private residence and other premises were conducted with “malafide intentions and political vendetta” by the CBI.

Singh in his petition had alleged that the agency had overstepped its jurisdiction in filing the case and questioned how the agency could raid his premises when the case was already pending in the Delhi HC and also before the Income Tax tribunal and other Income tax authorities, where all documents relating to his returns have been submitted.

Virbhadra had sought directions from the high court to quash the FIR registered against him and his wife under Sections 13(2) and 13(1) (e) of Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of IPC by CBI on September 23 here in Delhi.

The Delhi HC is also hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Common Cause, alleging that Singh had received unaccounted money to the tune of nearly Rs 5 crore.

It also referred to his revised IT returns for the years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 and claimed that it showed an increase in agricultural income to the tune of Rs 6.10 crore.