In an interim relief to Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh, Himachal High Court today restrained the CBI from arresting them in disproportionate assets case even though it allowed the probe to proceed.
A division bench, comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur, also told CBI not to question or take statements of Singh or his wife without the court’s permission.
The HC issued directives on a petition filed by Singh against whom an FIR was registered by the CBI last week and his residences raided on September 26. It fixed the next hearing on November 18.
Observing that there is a prima facie case and the balance of convenience is also in favour of the petitioners, the bench said, however, that they would suffer irreparable loss and injury in case interim directions are not issued at this stage.
“The CBI is directed to go ahead with the investigation but the statements of the petitioners shall not be recorded without the leave of the court,” it ruled.
“By way of abundant precaution, it is made clear that the petitioners shall not be arrested and when the dossier is complete, it shall be open for the Central Bureau of Investigation to approach this Court for permission to interrogate the petitioners in accordance with law,” it said.
Ashok Sharma, who appeared on behalf of CBI, submitted that there no proposal for arrest at this stage.
Singh had filed a petition in the court yesterday pleading that the raids on his private residence Holley Lodge and other premises were conducted with malafide intensions and political vendetta by central investigating agency.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal appeared for the chief minister.
Singh, in his petition, alleged that the CBI had overstepped its jurisdiction in filing the case and questioned the CBI raid at 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.
Seeking setting aside of entire CBI process of investigations and case filed against him and wife Pratibha Singh, a former MP, Singh argued that the permission of the state government was not sought by the state government and the home department before raiding the residence of a sitting chief minister. .
( Source – PTI )