Synopsis: On Wednesday, in an interim order, the Rajasthan High Court’s Jodhpur Bench granted protection from arrest to former Union Minister Arun Shourie in the Laxmi Vilas Hotel case. On Wednesday, the Rajasthan High Court stayed the arrest warrant issued by the CBI Court Judge against Arun Shourie on 15 September in respect of cases related to the disinvestment of the Laxmi Vilas Hotel, Udaipur.
In 2001, when the disinvestment of the Laxmi Vilas Hotel, Udaipur, took place, Shouri was the Minister for Disinvestment.
Provided the petitioner’s age and family circumstances, he was granted a small indulgence to appear at any time by October 15. The petitioner himself appeared for an online hearing and, while asking the Court to grant a complete exemption from appearance, outlined its predicaments, as reported by the Court in its order.
Shourie had sought the indulgence of the Court, citing his age, the illnesses of his wife, and a child who required his care. While granting Shourie the relief sought, the Court ordered him to furnish, on any date prior to 15 October, a personal bond of Rs 2 Lakhs and two sureties of Rs 1 Lakh each. He was also asked not to leave India without prior permission from the Court.
Relying on the Pradip Baijal v. Union of India, Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Advocate Pradeep Shah on behalf of Shourie, submitted that the trial court had committed an error in holding that, under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the prosecution sanction was not necessary.
In that case, the Court had given the petitioner interim protection therein. Shourie’s attorney argued that while Shourie ‘s case was similar, as he was not even identified in the FIR, it involved a different order.
As the petitioner is a senior citizen and thus has multiple age-related problems, it was ordered that he be granted full exemption from appearing before the Trial Court.
The Additional Solicitor General, V Raju, appearing for the CBI, supported the prayer of Shourie for exemption from appearance. Furthermore, the Rajasthan High Court accepts that ASG Raju had essentially conceded that the order of the Special Judge, CBI, did not comply with the law.
The CBI took the position that no violations were committed. It is also their position that the very order in which cognizance is taken is not proper.
Earlier this week, an allied order retaining the arrest warrants issued against Jyotsana Suri, owner of the Laxmi Vilas Palace Hotel, was passed by the High Court. In this order, the Court also took notice that the arrest warrants were issued by the CBI Court following rejection by the CBI.