The CBI has asked Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat to appear before it on Tuesday for questioning in its preliminary enquiry (PE) into allegations of horse-trading against him in a sting video.
A CBI source on Sunday confirmed the agency “served a notice” on Rawat, asking him to join the probe. “Information and clarifications would be sought from the Uttarakhand CM in the light of allegations against him in the sting video,” said the source.
The source said that the CBI will take a call on upgrading the PE probe by registering a regular case after “verifying and analysing Rawat’s responses during his questioning”. The CBI had said it found the sting footage to be “genuine” although it did not clarify whether it had been put through any forensic test to arrive at the conclusion. The agency also took the version of a dissident legislator who alleged he was lured with money.
The source said that the CBI is not required to seek any approval before quizzing a serving chief minister in a PE probe. “In a regular case probe as well, the agency requires permissions only to arrest a serving CM not to question him or her,” he said.
But instances of the CBI questioning serving state CMs are rare. Last year, the agency took clarifications from Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh as part of its PE probe into his alleged disproportionate assets worth `6.03 crore during his tenure as the steel minister under the UPA-II regime. In 1997, the CBI had searched then Bihar CM Laloo Prasad’s official residence as part of its fodder scam probe.
The agency’s move against Rawat came three days after its decision on Wednesday to continue its probe against him on grounds that a legal opinion it sought on the state’s withdrawal of consent to it a week ago, via a notification, was untenable.