Inform before arresting Virbhadra, his wife: Himachal HC

Shimla, Oct 1 (IANS) In a major relief to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, the state high court on Thursday asked the CBI to take its permission before arresting him and his wife in a disproportionate assets case.

“If the CBI is required to arrest them, it would first inform the court,” the court said.

Hearing a writ petition filed by Virbhadra Singh seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Singh Thakur, however, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to continue investigation into the matter.

The next date of hearing is November 19.

Senior Congress leader and former union minister Kapil Sibal appeared for Virbhadra Singh and sought quashing of the CBI’s first information report (FIR) and a stay on their arrest.

The chief minister on Wednesday moved the high court to seek relief in the CBI case registered against him on September 23 followed raids on 13 premises, including his residences in the state capital and Delhi.

In his petition, Virbhadra Singh pleaded that the inquiry against him and his wife fell under the income tax category, and the matter was already under probe by the income tax department and consideration of the high court.

He said he was the chief minister of a state and as such, it was imperative for the CBI to seek permission from appropriate authorities for filing a criminal case. He said raids by the CBI at his residences or other places without sanction of prosecution could not be conducted.

The petitioner pleaded that the preliminary inquiry in the matter and the FIR registered on its basis suffered from legal infirmities and was against section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act and hence it should be quashed.

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.

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