A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice RK Agrawal granted 4-week time to former chief minister of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh on the CBI’s plea seeking clarification on the nature of sanction needed from a state government for conducting any inquiry or investigation into an offence in the state.
Appearing for Singh, who is facing a disproportionate assets (DA) case, senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the bench that more time was required to file reply to the CBI plea.
Last month, the bench had issued notice to Singh on the plea of the premier investigating agency challenging a limited part of the Delhi High Court's verdict in which it questioned the procedure followed during the probe with regard to the state’s consent.
The high court had passed the order on March 31 last year, in which court had said the consent of state issue would be adjudicated by the trial court.
However, the high court had refused to quash the disproportionate assets case against Singh and his wife, rejecting their contention that the FIR was a result of “political vendetta”.
Singh had moved the Supreme Court in April last year against the Delhi HC order, terming the action taken against him “a well-planned conspiracy to damage his public image in the run-up to the Assembly elections”. He had alleged the corruption case against him was a result of political vendetta.
In his petition filed in the apex court, Singh had asked how the CBI could register a case against him without the state’s consent — which was a pre-requisite under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. Singh has maintained that CBI overstepped its jurisdiction in filing the case as the cause of action did not arise in the territory of Delhi.
According to the CBI, section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, does not talk about the nature of consent from state government and, therefore, it sought a clarification from the apex court on the issue as it would affect its power to investigate cases.
Section 6 of the DSPE Act deals with the consent of a state government for exercising of the powers and jurisdiction by CBI officials.
Earlier, the CBI had taken a stand before the high court that there was a general consent granted by the Himachal Pradesh government on August 24, 1990, to probe the offences of Central government employees in the territory of the state.
Singh had argued in the high court that he was not an official “of a central government department or any other central institution located in the territory of Himachal Pradesh”.
The high court had, however, said it would be for the trial court to look into the consent order aspect when the charge sheet was filed as it would then emerge as to what was the material/evidence collected by the investigating agency that was sought to be relied upon by the prosecution.
The high court had refused to quash the disproportionate assets case filed by the CBI against Virbhadra Singh and his wife, saying there was no basis to claim that the FIR was the result of any “political vendetta”.
It had vacated the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s October 1, 2015 interim order restraining the CBI from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet in the case without the court’s permission.
In September 2015, the CBI had registered an FIR against the Singhs carrying out an inquiry for allegedly amassing wealth of ₹6.1 crore disproportionate to known sources of income while serving as the Union Minister of Steel of the UPA government between 2009 and 2011.