The Delhi High Court Tuesday restrained a trial court here from examining the CBI witnesses connected with a probe done in Himachal Pradesh in a Rs 10-crore disproportionate assets case allegedly involving former chief minister Virbhadra Singh.
Justice Sunil Gaur, in an interim order, noted that Section 6 of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act has been challenged and the matter is sub-judice.
Section 6 of the Act deals with the consent of a state government for exercising powers and jurisdiction by CBI officials.
To this, the high court said the trial court should make an endeavour to first examine the witnesses who are not related to the investigation done in Himachal Pradesh on the date fixed by the lower court.
The trial in the DA case is pending before a lower court which had fixed May 1 for recording evidence of prosecution (CBI) witnesses.
The high court listed for September 18, the pleas of Singh, his wife Pratibha and two others challenging the trial court order to frame charges against them.
During the hearing, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan and lawyer D K Thakur, appearing for Singh, told the court that if the trial court is allowed to proceed with recording of evidence collected from Himachal Pradesh, the entire process of filing the petition would be defeated.
The high court had refused to stay the trial court order to frame charges against Singh and others in the DA case and had asked the CBI to respond to the pleas.
The CBI prosecutor had told the court that the agency has already filed an appeal before the Supreme Court, challenging a limited part of the high court's March 31, 2017 order in which it had said that the consent issue will be adjudicated by the trial court and notice was earlier issued to Singh.
Before the apex court, the CBI has sought clarification on the nature of sanction needed from a government to probe any offence committed in the state.
The CBI had contended before the high court that there was a general consent granted by the Himachal Pradesh government on August 24, 1990 to probe offences of central government employees in the territory of the state.
Singh, on the other hand, had contended in the high court that the consent order does not take within its scope a central minister, who served as a public servant in Delhi under the central government.
Singh has claimed in the plea that the offence of possessing disproportionate assets under the Prevention of Corruption Act, if any, is said to have been committed in Himachal Pradesh and the consent of the state government is necessary to initiate an investigation.
The plea has contended that the trial court was only required to look into the effect of the investigation conducted without consent and not to look into the law as to whether consent was necessary.
The trial court, in its December 2018 order, had said that Singh intended to cause loss to tax authorities by presenting unaccounted money as sale proceeds of apples and had also ordered framing of charges against his wife and seven others for allegedly abetting in the offences.
The punishment for the offences of criminal misconduct and disproportionate assets under the PC Act ranges between one to seven years jail term, forgery under IPC entails a maximum of two years imprisonment and the offence of cheating could lead to a maximum sentence of seven years.
On the role of his wife, the court had said there was "grave suspicion" that she committed the offence of abetment under the IPC.
The CBI had registered the case against Singh and others for allegedly amassing assets worth around Rs 10 crore disproportionate to their known source of income when he was the union minister in the UPA government.
A charge sheet filed in the trial court claimed that Singh had amassed assets worth around Rs 10 crore which were disproportionate by 192 per cent of his total income during his tenure as a union minister.
The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to the Delhi High Court, which on April 6, 2016 had asked the CBI not to arrest Singh and had directed him to join the probe.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)