The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Uttarakhand High Court’s order directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to inquire into alleged corruption charges against Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, ANI reported. The court also issued notices to the investigating agency and two journalists related to the case and sought their replies within four weeks.
Rawat told the court that the High Court had not heard him before ordering the inquiry, asking if a suo motu order can be passed without hearing the party, according to PTI.
On Tuesday, the Uttarakhand High Court had ordered the CBI to file an FIR against the chief minister and conduct an inquiry over allegations of corruption levelled by a journalist. Umesh Sharma, the journalist, who owns a local news channel Samachar Plus, had recorded a video related to the alleged role of the chief minister in getting money transferred to the account of his relatives in 2016. Rawat was then the chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Uttarakhand unit.
The High Court passed the order on hearing two separate writ petitions of journalists Sharma and Shiv Prasad Semwal. Both of them had sought quashing of an FIR lodged in July. The court quashed the FIR against Sharma.
Harinder Singh Rawat, a retired professor and a manager of a college in Dehradun, had lodged the complaint against the video uploaded by Sharma on Facebook. The police complaint stated that the video showed documents on a computer screen with bank accounts allegedly belonging to Harender Singh Rawat and his wife Savita Rawat. Umesh Sharma had said that Savita Rawat is the sister of the chief minister’s wife and that a man named Amritesh Singh Chauhan had deposited money in bank accounts belonging to the retired professor and his wife during demonetisation in 2016 to get appointed as the chief gau seva panel in Jharkhand.
In the complaint, Harinder Singh Rawat had rejected the claims of being related to the chief minister and said that the video showed fabricated documents relating to cash deposits in bank accounts.
The court said that Sharma had submitted Whatsapp messages, recorded conversations, bank deposit receipts and levelled allegations against Chauhan but they were not investigated.
“Should this court let the allegations levelled by the petitioner also sink in the memory of the people without them being investigated or should the Court suo motu take some action to get the matter investigated so as to clear the air?” the order said. Sharma had only asked the FIR to be quashed and not sought any inquiry into the case.
However, the High Court decided that the nature of allegations against the chief minister deemed it appropriate to “unfold the truth”. “It would be in the interest of the state that the doubts are cleared,” it said. “Therefore, while allowing the petition, this court proposes for investigation also.”