March 2, 2016

H P CM Virbhadra Singh to reply on CBI plea against HC order

Vijyender Sharma

SHIMLA----The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought response of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on CBI's plea seeking vacation of the Himachal Pradesh High Court's interim order restraining the agency from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet against him in a disproportionate assets case.

The agency moved the application before a bench of Justice Pratibha Rani, who issued a notice to Singh and posted the matter for hearing on April 4.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Patwalia, appearing for CBI, told the bench that the agency is seeking vacation of the Himachal Pradesh HC's interim order of October 1, 2015."This application is for vacation of the interim order. A notice may kindly be issued," Patwalia told the bench. During the hearing on February 25 on Singh's plea seeking quashing of FIR lodged against him and others in the case, the CBI had told the bench that its investigation in the case was "held up" due to the interim order of Himachal Pradesh HC. In his plea, Singh has claimed that CBI had overstepped its jurisdiction in filing the case and had also questioned how the agency could raid his premises when the case was already pending in the Delhi High Court, as also before the Income Tax Tribunal and other tax authorities, where all documents relating to his returns had been submitted. CBI had earlier pleaded before the high court that it has jurisdiction to register and investigate the DA case. The agency had also sought dismissal of Singh's plea to quash the FIR against him, alleging that his prayer was "frivolous and not maintainable". The arguments on Singh's plea would continue on April 4. On November 5 last year, the Supreme Court had transfered Singh's plea from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to the Delhi High Court, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case but "simply" transferring the petition "in the interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment". CBI had moved the apex court seeking transfer of the case from the Himachal Pradesh HC to the Delhi High Court and setting aside of the interim order granting protection from arrest and other relief to Singh. The chief minister had filed a petition in the Himachal Pradesh High Court pleading that the searches on his private residence and other premises were conducted with "malafide intentions and political vendetta" by the central investigating agency. Singh had sought directions from the high court to quash CBI's FIR registered in Delhi against him and others under Sections 13 (2) and 13(1)(e) of Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of IPC.

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