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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Manesar land scam case: HC stays summons issued to Haryana ACS by Special CBI court

The CBI court had in a December 1 order impleaded five officers of the Haryana government including incumbent ACS (Home-cum-Health) Rajeev Arora and four others in the ongoing Manesar land scam case trial.

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula | December 18, 2020 11:19:15 am
Punjab Haryan HC ACS CBI courtPunjab and Haryana High Court. The HC in its order, passed Tuesday and made public on Thursday, then granted a stay on the CBI order. The case will now be heard in the high court on April 30 next year. (File)

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the summons issued by a special CBI court in Panchkula to Additional Chief Secretary, Haryana, Rajiv Arora in connection with the multi-crore Manesar land scam case.

The CBI court had in a December 1 order impleaded five officers of the Haryana government including incumbent ACS (Home-cum-Health) Rajeev Arora and four others in the ongoing Manesar land scam case trial. All five had been summoned on December 17. Arora had then moved the HC against the CBI court order stating he had been “wrongly summoned”.

The HC in its order, passed Tuesday and made public on Thursday, then granted a stay on the CBI order. The single bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sanghwan also directed the CBI to file a counter affidavit in the matter with the concluding part of the chargesheet filed in CBI court. The case will now be heard in the high court on April 30 next year.

It has been argued by Arora through his advocates, that the special judge was “not competent to revert back to the stage of passing of the summoning order”. This has been cited by invoking provisions of Section 193 of CrPC that no court of session shall take cognizance of any offence as a court of original jurisdiction unless the case has been committed to it by a magistrate under this code.

Relying on the investigation conducted by the CBI in the matter which cites Arora as a witness, the counsel for Arora has argued that in the absence of any application filed by CBI to substitute the petitioner from a witness to an accused, “the Special Judge has wrongly entertained the application filed by co-accused M L Tayal to summon the petitioner as accused, as it is for the prosecuting agency to decide as to how the statement of the petitioner as a witness is to be used against the other accused”.

The counsel has also invoked provisions under section 173 (8) of the CrPC which state that courts are not obliged to hear the accused while considering a plea for further investigation, saying, “It was open for the special judge to invoke provisions of Section 173 (8) CrPC instead of drawing a conclusion of its own thereby touching the merits of the case”.

Further invoking section 197 of the CrPC, which details the prosecution of judges and public servants, the counsel for Arora has argued that summoning of Arora “only under” Section 120-B IPC read with Section 420 IPC “is no bar to summon the petitioner as additional accused, as he has not acted in discharge of his official duties as government servant”.

Citing the CBI court of Jagdeep Singh which had directed CBI to apply to the government to seek sanction under Section 19 of PC Act by placing all incriminating evidence before the competent sanctioning authority, the counsel has said “the special judge has exceeded its jurisdiction”.

Citing orders by the Supreme Court, wherein it had held that the superior courts cannot direct the sanctioning authority either to grant sanction or not to do so, the counsel for Arora called the order by special judge exceeding in its jurisdiction.

The case

The court in the order of December 1 had taken cognizance of the involvement of five additional accused in the Manesar land scam case, who were not named as accused by the CBI but were cited as witnesses in the chargesheet. It had summoned senior IAS officer Rajeev Arora, currently serving as ACS Home, under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and ordered him to face trial in the case. Rajeev was managing director, HSIIDC, from 2005-12. The court had directed CBI to place all relevant material before the sanctioning authority to conduct proceedings against Arora under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In hearings at the CBI court Thursday, bail applications by four other accused were allowed. The case has been adjourned for January 11, 2021.

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