Decks cleared by the supreme court ‘to protect the institution’
GN Bureau | November 5, 2015
Like Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s case, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s corruption case is being moved from his state high court. Supreme court on Thursday transferred the corruption case against Singh and his wife to the Delhi high court “to protect the institution from embarrassment” and “to avoid further controversy”.
The CBI had alleged that the judge, who had stopped them from arresting Virbhadra and his wife, had been his lawyer earlier. The agency had come to the top court against a high court order of October 1 whereby it was retrained from arresting the couple or questioning them without the court’s permission. The CBI was also asked not to file its final investigation report without its approval.
A bench of supreme court led by justice FMI Kalifulla said that the matter should be heard by the Delhi high court “in the interest of justice” and to ensure no further allegations are levelled against the court.
The CBI’s plea to allow custodial interrogation of the chief minister and his wife will also be heard by the Delhi High Court.
Virbhadra’s counsel Kapil Sibal opposed it on the ground that the order would mean lack of trust in Himachal judges and that it would set a wrong precedent.
But the bench rejected his contention, saying image of the institution cannot be allowed to get sullied and that for its image, the case should be moved out of Himachal Pradesh.
The bench finally recorded a consent order, with counsel for Virbhadra and CBI agreeing to have the matter heard by the Delhi High Court.
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