Rawat examined for nearly five hours

Last Updated 24 May 2016, 16:10 IST
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat was today examined by CBI for nearly five hours in connection with a preliminary inquiry into a sting operation involving him with the agency claiming he did not fully answer some questions during the session.

Accompanied by some supporters and an MLA, Rawat arrived at the CBI headquarters at 11 AM, probably becoming the first sitting chief minister to come to the agency headquarters for being examined in a preliminary enquiry.

He was questioned by the probe team till 4 PM during which a number of queries related to his relations with the owner of a news channel, alleged bribe proposal made to one dissident MLA by him and a minister in his cabinet, besides his claims on the purported sting video were asked.

"The Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat was examined today in connection with inquiry in the alleged sting operation. Further examination will continue. He will be called again," CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh said.

Sources in the agency later claimed that Rawat could not "furnish full and complete details" on many issues for which he has been called again which was countered by him saying he fully cooperated with the agency.

The sources, however, failed to elaborate on what specific points Rawat did not furnish details.

After coming out from the session, Rawat said he cannot reveal the questions asked by the probe team.

"I need not produce any evidence. I have neither done any horse trading nor given any money to anyone. I never said I want MLAs. I will come again on June 7th. People of electronic media reach anywhere. I accorded that journalist respect and he blackmailed me. Media needs to ponder over this," he said.

Rawat said he could not come on May 9 as he was engaged in the floor test which was scheduled a few days later.

The agency has registered a preliminary enquiry in connection with the alleged sting operation on April 29 purportedly showing Rawat offering bribes to rebel Congress lawmakers to support him during a floor test in the Uttarakhand Assembly.

It was registered on the reference received from the state government (during President's rule) and subsequent notification from BJP-led central government.

The PE is the first step during which the agency verifies the facts in the complaint received by it. During a PE, the agency can only "request" a person "to join the probe" and cannot summon him, carry out searches or make any arrests.

If verification of facts shows need of further probe, it may register an FIR or else close the PE.

The CBI had last week rejected the state government's notification withdrawing the nod for probing the case which was given during President's rule.

The Uttarakhand High Court also did not stay the CBI probe as requested by Rawat. CBI had said the notification was rejected after taking legal opinion, which said there was no ground for its withdrawal and it was "not legally tenable".

The agency had summoned Rawat for examination for May 9 but he had sought more time after which he won the floor test and returned to power.

Rawat has denied the allegation and called the video fake after it was released by the rebel Congress legislators but later admitted that he was on camera in the sting operation.

After Rawat's victory in the floor test, the state cabinet met on May 15 and withdrew the notification recommending a CBI probe into the sting operation involving him.

Instead, the state cabinet decided to constitute a Special Investigating Team to probe the case as it was a state subject.
(Published 24 May 2016, 16:09 IST)

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