The Delhi High Court today dismissed Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s petition in the disproportionate assets case filed against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation..Singh and his wife have been accused of acquiring assets disproportionate to their known sources of income during Singh’s tenure as the Union Minister of the State from 2009 to 2011 and as Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) from 2009 to 2012..The case was registered against him by the CBI in 2015 after two preliminary enquiries conducted by the CBI. Singh had contended that CBI did not have the jurisdiction to conduct a second preliminary enquiry when the first, based on the same facts and allegations, had been closed..Singh further contended that the CBI can’t investigate the case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 without obtaining permission from the State Government under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946..However, the High Court of Himachal Pradesh had allowed the CBI to go ahead with the investigation on the condition that the statements of Virbhadra Singh and his wife were not to be recorded without seeking leave of the Court. The High Court had also ordered that no arrest shall be made and no challan shall be filed without the express leave of the Court..Both, Singh and the CBI approached the Supreme Court against the Himachal Pradesh High Court’ order. Singh sought transfer of the proceedings from the State’s High Court while CBI filed SLPs against the order. The Apex Court dismissed CBI’s SLPs and transferred the case to the Delhi High Court..Justice Vipin Sanghi of the Delhi High Court heard the matter over a period of three months and reserved the judgment on December 15 last year giving a time of one week for the parties to file their written synopsis..Interestingly, Singh’s written synopsis was filed by Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani on December 23 when, in fact, it was Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Dayan Krishnan, who had represented him during the hearing..Observing this Justice Sanghi stated,.“On the said date, i.e. 23.12.2016, for the first time, Mr. Jethmalani appeared before me (though the record shows that he had appeared for the petitioners earlier on 05.04.2016 and 06.04.2016), and requested me to take note of the first written submission of the petitioners. He requested me to consider the petitioners plea that I should recuse myself from dealing with the case.”.This was the first time the issue of Justice Sanghi’s recusal was brought before him in the hearing. In the judgment running over 130 pages, Justice Sanghi states,.“The petitioner no. 1 (Virbhadra Singh) in his written submission states that “after long introspection” he “has not been able to get over his feeling that” I “may not be able to impartially deal with the numerous issues of law and fact which were originally formulated by the Hon’ble High Court of Himachal Pradesh”. .The petitioner no. 1 goes on to state that the learned Attorney General Mr. Mukul Rohatgi had appeared before the Supreme Court and pressed for the transfer of the proceedings in the subject writ petition from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to this Court. .The petitioner no. 1 further states “When the petitioner heard about this from his counsel, he was a bit perturbed, but he raised no objection to the matter being heard by your Lordship in spite of some serious anxiety which kept oppressing the petitioner. This anxiety is the result of the following circumstances, in brief…”.The circumstances mentioned by Singh in his written submissions were that Rohtagi had advised the moving of the transfer petition before the Supreme Court, and had also appeared before the Supreme Court on behalf of the CBI. Singh went on to allege that the BJP Government was hostile towards him even when it was in power between 1998 to 2004 – when Mr. Mukul Rohatgi was an Additional Solicitor General..Singh stated that “the BJP government was responsible for engineering the present case against the petitioners”. He stated in his written submissions,.“The Petitioner out of respect for this Hon’ble Court and all courts in general did not request for recusal but fortunately or unfortunately he came to know that your Lordships sister is married to the present Attorney General Mr. Mukul Rohatgi.”.Justice Sanghi addressed this as the first argument in his judgment stating that “before I proceed to deal with any other aspect of the case, I must first deal with this submission of the petitioners.” Dealing with the issue, Justice Sanghi stated,.“It is not the petitioners’ case that their counsels, including senior counsels representing them, were not aware of the relationship between me and the learned Attorney General Mr. Mukul Rohatgi. If, on account of the said relationship alone, they had any lingering doubt with regard to my independence and my capacity to do justice in the case, nothing prevented them from making the said request before opening their arguments in the case. .But, in the present case, the learned senior counsels representing the petitioners never raised the said issue at any stage of the hearing, and proceeded to advance their submissions (there were two senior counsels representing the petitioners’ case, namely, Mr. Dayan Krishnan and Mr. Kapil Sibal) without even a whisper on the said aspect.”.Dismissing the argument made in the written submissions seeking his recusal, Justice Sanghi clearly stated,.“Enormous amount of judicial time and effort has gone into the hearing of the present petition. Even though the petitioners may be ready and willing to foot the bill of the hearings before another learned Judge – to whom the matter may be transferred if I were to recuse, there can be no justification to subject the State of Himachal Pradesh and the CBI/ Union of India to the same burden, merely because the petitioners have now decided to request me to recuse myself from the case. It is not that my relationship with the learned Attorney General Mr. Mukul Rohatgi has come about post the commencement of the hearing.”.On the merits of the case itself, Justice Sanghi pronounced the verdict in one-line in the open court dismissing Singh’s petition. In his judgment he stated,.“It was held that it was not mandatory for the CBI to seek consent of the state government of Himachal Pradesh under provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act at the time of registering the FIR due to which it could not be quashed.”.Further on the issue of jurisdiction the bench held that since the case has been registered in Delhi by the CBI, if the investigation has been conducted in the state of Himachal Pradesh, it would not dilute the basic structure of the Constitution..Mere hours after the judgment was pronounced, the CBI filed a chargesheet in the Patiala House Court today against nine accused including Singh, his wife and his LIC agent..Read the full judgment here..Image taken from here.