New Delhi/ Nagpur: Granting fulfillment of wish of the petitioner, the Supreme Court on Thursday transferred a plea filed by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in a disproportionate assets case from Himachal Pradesh High Court to Delhi High Court.
A bench of Justices F M I Kalifulla and U U Lalit said it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case but “simply” transferring the petition to the Delhi High Court “in the interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment,” said media reports.
The apex court also ordered deletion of allegations and counter allegations made by either parties against the High Court judge and the counsel representing CBI in the case.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Chief Minister, opposed the transfer saying it would send a wrong message that the state HC is not fit enough to hear this case.
Rejecting the submissions, the bench said it would not deal with any aspect of the matter and simply refer it to Delhi HC by invoking its extraordinary constitutional authority in the interests of justice.
Earlier, the apex court had sought responses from Singh and others on two petitions filed by CBI against the High Court order granting protection from arrest and other relief to him and his wife in the case.
The bench, however, had not granted interim stay on the 1 October order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court which had restrained CBI from arresting Singh and his wife in the DA case but had allowed the enquiry in the matter to proceed.
The high court had also directed CBI to keep the court informed before interrogating the couple.
The CBI had filed a transfer petition and a special leave petition in the apex court seeking transfer of the case against Singh from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi and setting aside the order passed by the state high court, respectively.
The chief minister had filed a petition in the high court pleading that the searches on his private residence and other premises were conducted with “malafide intentions and political vendetta” by the central investigating agency.
Singh had sought directions from the high court to quash the FIR registered against him and his wife under Sections 13 (2) and 13(1) (e) of Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 109 of IPC by CBI on September 23 here in Delhi.
The Delhi HC is also hearing a PIL filed by NGO, Common Cause, alleging that Singh had received unaccounted money to the tune of nearly Rs 5 crore.
It also referred to his revised IT returns for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 and claimed that it showed an increase in agricultural income to the tune of Rs 6.10 crore.
The IT department, in its status report filed in the Delhi High Court, had contended that it has the locus standi to probe the matter as the properties under question were also located in the national capital.