September 27, 2016 8:27:10 pm
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, an accused in a disproportionate assets case along with others, today claimed in Delhi High Court that CBI’s FIR against him was “premature” as it was based on the proceedings of Income Tax department, which was still pending. Singh’s counsel told Justice Vipin Sanghi that CBI had lodged a preliminiary enquiry (PE) in October 2012 which was later closed, but the agency registered a second PE on June 17 last year based on the same facts which were already investigated by it.
“When the first PE was closed, where was the necessity of reopening it again in the second PE on the same set of facts which were inquired into by the CBI in the first PE which was closed,” senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for the Congress leader, said. “The very foundation (proceedings of IT department) on which this second PE and FIR was based is still going on. This FIR is premature,” he said during arguments which would continue on Wednesday.
Singh had earlier claimed in court that the way in which probe was conducted showed an “element of enthusiasm” on CBI’s part indicating an element of “malafide”. CBI had told the high court that its probe in the DA case against Singh and others was “complete” and it wanted to file the charge sheet in the matter.
The Himachal Pradesh High Court in an interim order on October 1, 2015, had restrained the agency from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet against Singh in the case without its permission. The matter, in which Himachal Pradesh HC had passed the interim order, was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court, but the interim order has not yet been vacated or stayed.
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Delhi High Court on April 6 this year had directed CBI not to arrest Singh while asking him to join the probe. The direction had come when the court was disposing of CBI’s application seeking vacation of the Himachal Pradesh High Court order, which the agency claimed had “seriously held up” its investigation in the case.
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”. CBI had moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case here and setting aside the interim order granting protection
from arrest and other relief granted to Virbhadra.
A DA case was lodged against the Chief Minister and others by CBI under sections 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and section 109 (punishment for abetment) of the IPC.
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