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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Witnesses in sex CD case against CM Baghel being threatened: CBI to SC

Tushar Mehta, the government’s second most-senior law officer, told the Supreme Court that witnesses were being threatened in this case. The Supreme Court has also issued a notice to the state government.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2019 14:08 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The sleaze CD case has its origins in a complaint filed by BJP’s Rajesh Moonat back in 2017 when he was a minister in the Chhattisgarh government.
The sleaze CD case has its origins in a complaint filed by BJP’s Rajesh Moonat back in 2017 when he was a minister in the Chhattisgarh government.(PTI FILE)
         

The Supreme Court on Monday stopped the trial in the Chhattisgarh sleaze CD case after the Central Bureau of Investigation asked the top court to transfer the trial to Delhi. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is an accused in this case.

Tushar Mehta, the government’s second most-senior law officer, told the Supreme Court that witnesses were being threatened in this case. The Supreme Court has also issued a notice to the state government.

Mehta told a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that the CBI had filed a chargesheet against Baghel in this case before he became the state’s chief minister. The threats allegedly started after the Congress leader became the chief minister in the state.

Mehta said the witnesses in this case had given written complaints of intimidation and the state police had filed FIRs against witnesses and the complainant to scare them.

The sleaze CD case has its origins in a complaint filed by BJP’s Rajesh Moonat back in 2017 when he was a minister in the Chhattisgarh government. Moonat had alleged that journalist Vinod Verma and Bhupesh Baghel, who was then the state Congress chief, were using what he had described as a “sex CD”, to blackmail him.

Verma, who had taken up an assignment with the state Congress as its strategist, was arrested in October 2017. Baghel was arrested in September 2018, around the same time that the CBI filed a chargesheet against the Verma, Baghel and three others. Baghel, who was leading his party’s campaign against the Raman Singh government in the state elections, refused to seek bail and remained in judicial custody for a couple of days, saying he will sit on ‘satyagraha’ in jail to protest against the government.

Baghel, who has described the case against him as politically motivated, took over as Chhattisgarh Chief Minister in December 2018.

Baghel’s party said it welcomed the Supreme Court notice in the case.

“We believe in the court of law and the state government will duly respond to the notice issued by the honourable court,” said RP Singh , senior Congress leader and spokesperson of the Chhattisgarh Congress.