“You have been named in the FIR. Why don’t you join the investigation and finish it. Ultimately, you have to join it,” Justice Pratibha Rani told Virbhadra Singh, who is protected from arrest or interrogation by an order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
In an oral observation, Justice Pratibha Rani said: “If you have intention to join the investigation, join it.”
The court, however, did not pass any order to ask Virbhadra Singh to join the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Additional Solicitor General P.S. Patwalia told the court that the investigation in the case was “seriously held up”, adding that the central agency had completed a dossier in the case and the “facts which have come up are very very serious”.
The Himachal Pradesh High Court had, through an interim order on October 1, 2015, restrained the CBI from arresting or interrogating Virbhadra Singh or filing a charge sheet against him in the Rs.6 crore disproportionate assets case.
The CBI has urged the Delhi High Court to vacate the Himachal Pradesh High Court order, contending that the order was hampering investigation.
The Delhi High Court was hearing the Congress leader’s plea for quashing the first information report lodged against him by the CBI.
Meanwhile, since the Himachal Pradesh High Court order was passed by a two-judge division bench, Justice Pratibha Rani on Tuesday sought clarification on whether the case could be heard by a single-judge bench.
She referred the case to Delhi High Court Chief Justice G. Rohini to decide whether the court could continue to hear the case. The matter was posted for further hearing on Wednesday.
In November 2015, the Supreme Court transferred the disproportionate assets case against the chief minister to the Delhi High Court from the Himachal Pradesh High Court, saying the transfer was necessary “to protect the institution from embarrassment” and to “avoid further controversy”.
The apex court, however, did not pass any order to modify the Himachal Pradesh High Court order that restrained the CBI from arresting Singh. The CBI has challenged this order.
Virbhadra Singh had moved the Himachal Pradesh High Court following CBI searches at his residences in Delhi and Shimla on September 26 last year which, he contended, were mala fide and out of political vendetta.
The case was registered on September 23 last year under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the chief minister, his wife Pratibha Singh, Life Insurance Corporation agent Anand Chauhan and associate Chunni Lal.
The case was registered after a preliminary inquiry that allegedly found that Virbhadra Singh, as union minister during 2009-2012, accumulated assets worth Rs.6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income.