The Delhi High Court today refused to grant any interim stay on the money laundering proceedings initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and others.
“Stay on proceedings? I cannot do like this today. No urgency is required. Let us be practical. There cannot be a blanket order like this,” the judge said.
Justice Pratibha Rani issued a notice to the ED seeking its response before May 31 on Virbhadra’s plea seeking stay on the proceedings and quashing of the money laundering case against him.
During the hearing, senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for Virbhadra, told the bench that his client has been summoned by ED for tomorrow and there is an apprehension that he may be arrested.
“The urgency is that I (Virbhadra) have been summoned by ED for tomorrow. In the present political scenario, there is an apprehension that I may be arrested. Virbhadra Singh is not only the Chief Minister but also Finance Minister of Himachal Pradesh. The budget session is going on in the state assembly.
“Kindly exempt me for tomorrow. There should not be any coercive action against me,” Nandrajog said.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain told the bench that ED has not sought personal appearance of Virbhadra and he can be represented through his authorised representative tomorrow. “Personal appearance is not needed tomorrow,” the ASG said.
To this, the bench said, “I think that it puts an end to this interim prayer (seeking exemption from personal appearance before ED tomorrow). Once ASG shows that Virbhadra is not required then why are you worrying about tomorrow.”
Nandrajog, however, told the bench that during the proceedings on the last date before the ED, an impression was given that if Virbhadra would not appear before them tomorrow then action would be taken against him.
ED had last year registered a money laundering case against Virbhadra and others under provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after taking cognisance of a criminal complaint filed by the CBI in this regard.