The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Friday turned down the petition of Union Steel Minister, Virbhadra Singh for transfer of a corruption case against him from the state police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Deepak Gupta, said it is neither an appropriate case nor in a stage to grant the prayer to transfer the investigation to the CBI.
It is for the appropriate special judge of the trial court to consider all the pleas raised by Virbhadra Singh, the court said.
In the petition, the minister said that after Prem Kumar Dhumal became the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh in December 2007, the government registered a case against him and his wife on August 3, 2008, under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The case was registered on the basis of an audio CD released by his political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia.
According to police, Virbhadra Singh was heard allegedly referring to some monetary transactions in a phone call with Indian Administrative Service’s (IAS) officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead. The CD allegedly also contained the voices of his wife and some industrialists.
The court observed that without considering the material collected by the investigating agency till now, it cannot be said that the case is fit or not for CBI investigation.
"In so far as the question of issuing a direction to the CBI to conduct investigation, no inflexible guidelines can be laid down to decide whether or not such power should be exercised. This extra-ordinary power must be exercised sparingly, cautiously and in exceptional situations where it becomes necessary to provide credibility and instill confidence in investigations or where the incident may have national and international ramifications, otherwise the CBI would be flooded with a large number of cases," the Court said.
"In the above circumstances, we do not find it as the appropriate stage for the petitioners to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court under Article 226 of the Constitution as an appropriate case for change of investigating agency," the double bench observed.