The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Uttarakhand High Court's October 27 direction to launch a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and register an FIR against Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on allegations of bribery.
The three-judge Bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah stayed paragraphs 155.6, 155.7, and 155.8 of the High Court judgment passed by justice Ravindra Maithani, according to a report by the Bar and Bench.
Justice Shah noted that "everyone was taken by surprise" when the High Court exercised its suo motu powers under Article 226 and there was no such issue raised by the petitioners. Further, Justice Bhushan observed that CM Rawat was not even a party to the case and “such a drastic order has been passed."
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for Chief Minister Rawat, also pointed out that the Uttarakhand CM was not a party to the case wherein the High Court ordered a CBI investigation. “This is against Supreme Court verdicts which disallow destabilizing the government, as such verdicts demand resignation of the CM, which is happening,” Venugopal was quoted by the Bar and Bench as saying.
Appearing for Rawat, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi also submitted that the HC order violated the law.
The HC had directed the police to register an FIR against Rawat on allegations of corruption made by journalist Umesh Sharma. The high court also allowed Sharma’s plea seeking quashing of an FIR filed against him this year for releasing a video in June with the said corruption allegations. Sharma had alleged that one Amratesh Singh Chauhan bribed Rawat with Rs 25 lakh in 2016 for the former’s appointment as Chairman of Jharkhand’s Gau Seva Ayog. Rawat was the BJP's State in-charge of Jharkhand at the time. The FIR had accused Sharma of cheating, forgery, conspiracy and allied offences. The HC quashed the FIR after finding that none of the offences were prima facie made out against the journalist.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the journalist at the SC, told the court that the matter was serious as some WhatsApp messages and bank accounts were linked to the allegations against Rawat.
The Supreme Court has stayed portions of the October 27 HC judgment and the matter will be heard after four weeks.
In his order, Justice Ravindra Maithani had opined: "This Court is of the view that considering the nature of allegations levelled against Trivendra Singh Rawat, the Chief Minister of the State, it would be appropriate to unfold the truth. It would be in the interest of the State that the doubts are cleared. Therefore, while allowing the petition, this Court proposes for investigation also."
"People should not live under the impression that their representatives are not pure. If somebody levels false allegations which are actionable in law, the law should take its own course. If allegations of corruption levelled against the people in high positions stay in society without them being inquired and cleared, it will neither help the society to grow nor the State to function efficiently,” the judge had observed.