The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the ongoing criminal trial against Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in the alleged sex CD case, PTI reported.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer also issued a notice to Baghel after a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation sought transfer of the case out of Chhattisgarh on the grounds that the chief minister had allegedly been threatening witnesses. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, said that two prosecution witnesses have filed complaints with the probe agency that they have been threatened at the behest of Baghel, for giving evidence against the chief minister in the case.

According to the CBI’s chargesheet, former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kalish Murarka, Baghel and four other people were involved in a criminal conspiracy to make a morphed sex video of former state minister Rajesh Munat and circulate it. On September 27 last year, Murarka surrendered in a special court in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur. He was later released on bail. The BJP had expelled Murarka from the party last year.

Murarka had said that Baghel had nothing to do with the case and that he is “paak saaf” (completely clean). Baghel was sent to judicial custody last September, but a court soon granted him bail. In December, Baghel became the chief minister of Chhattisgarh.

The other accused in the sex CD case are senior journalist Vinod Verma, Bhilai-based businessman Vijay Bhatia, Vijay Pandya and Rinku Khanuja. Khanuja, a Raipur-based automobile dealer, committed suicide in June 2018.

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