Double whammy for Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh

RSTV Bureau
VIRBHADRA_SINGH_PTI

File photo of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. (PTI)

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh suffered a double whammy on Friday. The CBI filed charges against him and his wife in the disproportionate assets case against him, and the Delhi High Court denied him any relief by removing the interim stay on his interrogation or arrest.

The charge sheet was filed against nine people including the 82-year-old the Congress leader before special judge Virender Kumar Goyal for alleged offences punishable under section 109 (abetment) of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.

It also named LIC agent Anand Chauhan who is currently in judicial custody. Chauhan was arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on July 9 2016, in a separate money laundering case related to the disproportionate assets case.

The charges were filed just hours after the Delhi High Court dismissed the chief minister and his wife’s plea seeking quashing of the DA case filed against them by the CBI.

Justice Vipin Sanghi also vacated the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s interim order of October 1, 2015 restraining the CBI from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet in the case without the court’s permission.

Singh 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 the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of IPC by the CBI on September 23, 2015. He urged the court to summon records of the preliminary inquiry and the FIR.

Virbhadra and his wife Pratibha Singh had claimed in their plea that there was no order, direction or judgment by any court that had authorised the CBI to inquire, investigate or register regular cases and exercise jurisdiction in the territory of Himachal Pradesh.

On October 1, 2015 Singh had got an interim order from the Himachal Pradesh High Court restraining the CBI from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet in the case without the court’s permission.

The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court, which on April 6, 2016 had asked CBI not to arrest Singh and had directed him to join the probe.

On November 5 last year, the apex court had transferred Singh’s plea from Himachal Pradesh HC to Delhi HC, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but “simply” transferring the petition “in interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment”.

(With inputs from PTI)