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FIR Against Journalists Can't Be Revived by Interim Order, SC Tells U'khand Govt

File photo of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.

File photo of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.

In its October 27 verdict, the high court had quashed the FIR lodged at Dehradun against the two scribes — Umesh Sharma and Shiv Prasad Semwal — in July this year under various provisions of the IPC relating to sedition, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy. The high court had however ordered CBI probe into corruption allegations, levelled by the journalists, against Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.

The Supreme Court told the Uttarakhand government on Tuesday that it cannot revive through an interim order the FIR against two journalists after it has already been quashed by the Nainital High Court. In its October 27 verdict, the high court had quashed the FIR lodged at Dehradun against the two scribes — Umesh Sharma and Shiv Prasad Semwal — in July this year under various provisions of the IPC relating to sedition, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy. The high court had however ordered CBI probe into corruption allegations, levelled by the journalists, against Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.

The accusation pertained to alleged money transfer to the accounts of relatives of Rawat in 2016 to support the appointment of a person as head of 'Gau Seva Ayog' of Jharkhand when Rawat was the in-charge of BJP unit there. Two days after the HC verdict, the top court stayed the drastic order against the Chief Minister, saying it was passed without hearing him and it took everybody by surprise.

On Thursday, the state government urged a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah that the high court order quashing of the FIR against the journalists be set aside. "We cannot revive the FIR by way of an interim order," the bench told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the state government, in a hearing conducted via video conferencing. The bench, however, took note of the submissions of the Uttarakhand government and issued notice to the two scribes on its plea challenging quashing of the FIR against them.

Rohatgi said the high court order was "unsustainable" and this needed to be quashed. We want to arrest him and investigate the issue." Another senior advocate Siddharth Luthra appeared for the journalists in the case which has now been tagged with the plea filed earlier by the Chief Minister and will be heard after four weeks. The FIR against the scribes was lodged for posting a video on Facebook alleging that one Amritesh Chauhan from Jharkhand deposited money after demonetisation into the bank account of a couple, Harendra Singh Rawat and his wife Savita Rawat, who are purportedly related to the chief minister. Harendra, a retired professor, had lodged the FIR at a police station in Dehradun against Sharma and also alleged that the journalist was blackmailing him.

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