Himachal CM approaches SC in disproportionate assets case

New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against a Delhi High Court order that rejected his plea to quash an FIR against him and his wife in a disproportionate assets case.

The veteran Congress leader challenged the March 31 Delhi High Court order that also vacated a Himachal Pradesh High Court order of October 1, 2015, restraining the Central Bureau of Investigation from arresting, interrogating or filing a chargesheet in the case without court permission.

The CBI on September 23, 2015, filed an FIR against Singh and his wife under Sections 13(2) and 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code regarding property worth Rs 6 crore he acquired between 2009 and 2012 during his tenure as Union Steel Minister.

The CBI sought vacation of the Himachal High Court stay on the ground that it was hampering investigation in the case. 

In November 2015, the Supreme Court transferred the case to the Delhi High Court "to protect the judiciary from embarrassment". 

Virbhadra Singh had accused the CBI of overstepping its jurisdiction in filing the case since the cause of action did not arise in Delhi but was allegedly committed in Himachal Pradesh.

Virbhadra Singh said in his plea: "A perusal of the impugned FIR shows that all acts and/or omissions said to constitute the offence under Section 13 (1)(e) read with Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act are said to have been perpetrated in Himachal Pradesh." 

"In the present case, the petitioners have been subjected to double investigation on the same information and same set of facts. The petitioners were first investigated through a preliminary enquiry for the offences relating to criminal misconduct and disproportionate assets under the Act. After investigation, the CBI closed the first preliminary enquiry." 

The appeal added that there was no new material to initiate fresh investigation and hence subject them to "double investigation".

On the other hand, the CBI had contended that the allegations against Singh in the case were "very serious" as a huge amount of money was involved and the state government had shown "overanxiety" in protecting him.

Singh, his wife and children are also facing an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate in the matter.