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CBI moves SC, seeks to question Himachal CM

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New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday moved the Supreme Court to challenge a Himachal Pradesh High Court order restraining it from interrogating Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife in an alleged disproportionate assets case and sought their custodial interrogation.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also filed a petition in the apex court to seek transfer of the case against Virbhadra Singh from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi, where a similar case is pending against him.

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu said the plea would be heard on the opening day after the Dussehra holidays. Additional Solicitor General PS Patwalia mentioned the matter before the court in the morning and sought early hearing. The high court order of October 1 has virtually stalled the investigation process, he said.

The high court has asked the CBI not to arrest the chief minister and his wife in the disproportionate assets case. However, it directed the central agency to go ahead with the investigation.

“…by way of abundant precaution, it’s made clear that the petitioners shall not be arrested,” a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Singh Thakur said while hearing a writ petition filed by Virbhadra Singh.

In his petition, Virbhadra Singh said the CBI’s action of raiding his residences on September 26 in Delhi and Shimla was mala fide and political vendetta.

Regarding interrogation of Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh following the registration of the case on September 23, the high court said: “It’s also made clear that as and when the dossier is complete, it shall be open for the CBI to approach this court for permission to interrogate the petitioners in accordance with law.”

It clarified to the CBI that it shall not file a challan without the express leave of this court. “These observations shall have no bearing on whether a case in pending, including before the Delhi High Court.”

The next date of hearing in the high court is November 18.

The CBI raided Virbhadra Singh’s private residence, Holly Lodge, in Jakhu Hills in Shimla, on September 26. At that time, the chief minister and his family were busy with his daughter’s marriage.

The case was registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act against Virbhadra Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh, LIC agent Anand Chauhan and an associate, Chunni Lal.

“The FIR was the outcome of a preliminary inquiry which revealed that Virbhadra Singh, while serving (as union minister) during 2009-2012, had allegedly accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members which were found to be disproportionate to his known sources of income,” a CBI official said.

(IANS)

 

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Another Deadline Missed, No Draft Scheme on the Cauvery Dispute Till Now

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme.

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The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.
Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia commons

The Centre yet again failed to submit a draft Scheme on the Cauvery river water dispute before the Supreme Court on the ground that the Prime Minister and other ministers were campaigning in Karnataka, which Tamil Nadu flayed as “brazen partisanship”.

Seeking 10 more days to finalize the scheme, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud: “A draft scheme has been placed before the Cabinet. Because of Karnataka elections, the Prime Minister and all other Ministers are in Karnataka. Before that the Prime Minister was abroad (in China).”

It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Parliament of India, wikimedia commons

The Centre’s submission was countered strongly by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who said: “Sorry to say, the Central government is politicizing the issue. They are worried about their electoral fate in Karnataka. Election in Karnataka is on May 12 and somehow they don’t want to do it till then. We have enough of it. It is brazen partisanship of the Union of India. It is the end of co-operative federalism.”

The apex court in its February 16 judgement had directed the Centre to frame a Scheme within six months in accordance with the recommendation by the Cauvery River Water Tribunal for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), which Karnataka opposes strongly.

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme. Tamil Nadu filed a contempt petition against the Centre for failure to act within the deadline.

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During Thursday’s hearing, the court directed the Karnataka government to respond on how much of the four TMC of water it can release by month end. It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

In the course of the hearing, the court asked Karnataka to release 4 TMC of water by Monday.

The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on Tuesday. (IANS)