The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday granted interim relief from arrest to former Union minister Arun Shourie in the case pertaining to the sale of Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel in Udaipur in 2002.
In an interim order passed on Wednesday, the court of Justice Dinesh Mehta said Shourie shall not be arrested in pursuance of the arrest warrant issued by a special CBI court in Jodhpur on September 15.
The court also said the CBI had “practically conceded” that the order of the CBI court judge is “not in conformity with the law”.
In a separate order, the court granted interim relief from arrest to Kantilal Vikamsey, proprietor of Kanti Karamsey and Co., the valuer of the disinvested hotel.
On Tuesday, the High Court had granted interim relief to three other persons — retired IAS officer Pradip Baijal, Bharat Hotels Managing Director Jyotsna Suri, and Ashish Guha of financial advisory form Lzard India Ltd –over arrest warrants issued by the special CBI court.
Shourie, who was Disinvestment Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the time of the sale of the hotel, was represented in the High Court on Wednesday by senior counsel Prashant Bhushan and Pradeep Shah.
Shourie’s counsel argued that the trial court had erred in holding that the prosecution sanction under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act is not required.
“Section 197 of the CrPC mandates prior sanction before prosecution of any person ‘who is or was’ a public servant and ‘is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty’, Shourie had said in his petition.
Seeking exemption from appearance before the trial court, Shourie’s lawyers cited his health and his advanced age (79 years).
On Wednesday, Shourie, who appeared through an online link, told the court that because of his age, his wife’s ailments and a child, who requires his care, he would find it difficult to appear before the court.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju, who appeared for the CBI, submitted that Shourie’s prayer of exemption be acceded to.
The court, however, didn’t grant Shourie complete exemption from appearance in court and said he could do so any time by October 15 and furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each. The court told Vikamsey to appear before the trial court on October 8.
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