Relief for Rawat: SC stays HC order on lodging of FIR on corruption charges
New Delhi, Oct 29: The Supreme Court has stayed an order of the High Court which ordered lodging an FIR against Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat on corruption allegations.
Attorney General, K K Venugopal told the court that an elected government cannot be unsettled like this. Can suo motu order be passed like this without hearing the party, the AG asked.
The AG also said that an FIR cannot be lodged without hearing the party, who is CM. This will unsettle elected government, the AG also submitted.
Rawat moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday against the Nainital High Court order for a CBI probe into the allegations by two scribes that money was transferred into the accounts of his relatives in 2016 to support appointment of a person as head of ''Gau Seva Ayog'' of Jharkhand.
Amid rising clamour for his resignation by Congress party, Rawat, who was the Jharkhand in-charge for BJP in 2016, filed a special leave petition against the high court judgement through lawyer Divyam Agarwal. The counsel has not yet divulged the grounds of the challenge.
The high court verdict came on Tuesday on two separate petitions filed by the two journalists - Umesh Sharma and Shiv Prasad Semwal -- seeking quashing of an FIR lodged against them in July this year under various provisions of the IPC relating to sedition, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy.
The FIR against Sharma was lodged for posting a video on Facebook alleging that one Amritesh Chauhan from Jharkhand deposited money after demonetisation into the bank account of a couple, Harendra Singh Rawat and his wife Savita Rawat, who are allegedly related to the Chief Minister.
Harendra, a retired professor, had lodged the FIR at a police station in Dehradun against Sharma and also alleged that the journalist was blackmailing him.
While quashing the FIR, the high court ordered a CBI probe into the allegations levelled against Rawat.
The apex court, on October 16, had dismissed a separate plea by Sharma seeking transfer of three criminal cases pending against him to Delhi from Dehradun on the grounds of being targeted by the Rawat government.
The top court observed that "credibility" of Sharma's "journalistic activity" was itself questioned by his member of the sting operation team.
The top court had noted that Sharma faces 17 cases in Uttarakhand, four in Uttar Pradesh, five in West Bengal, two in Delhi and out of which one is under investigation of CBI, and another one at Ranchi, Jharkhand.
In its judgement, the Nainital High Court said, "Superintendent of Police, CBI Dehradun is directed to register an FIR on the basis of the allegations levelled in para 8 of the petition in WPCRL no. 1187 of 2020 and investigate the case in accordance with law, with promptitude."
"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. In view of the nature of the allegations, this Court is of the view that the CBI should be directed to lodge an FIR on the basis of allegations levelled in para 8 of the instant petition and investigate the case in accordance with law," the high court said.
It also observed that criticizing the government can never be sedition and unless the public functionaries are criticized, democracy cannot be strengthened.
"In democracy dissent is always respected and considered, if it is suppressed under sedition laws perhaps, it would be an attempt to make the democracy weak," it said.