Supreme Court stays trial in Chhattisgarh sex CD case

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Bhupesh Baghel

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the trial in the sex CD case in which Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is an accused.

A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer also issued a notice to Baghel on the agency’s plea for transfer of the case out of Chhattisgarh.

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the agency, why he was seeking transfer of the case. Mehta replied that two witnesses had complained that they were being threatened. He added that one of the accused in the case had become the Chief Minister and his co-accused had become his political advisor.

The bench then asked whether the complaints had been brought on record of the court to which Mehta answered in the affirmative.

The controversial CD case dates back to 2017 when Baghel was state Congress Chief and Raman Singh of the BJP was Chief Minister in his third term.

In October 2017, Vinod Verma, a former BBC journalist who was then a consultant with the state Congress and is now Baghel’s political advisor, was arrested for alleged extortion and the creation of a “fake sex CD” of then PWD minister Rajesh Munat. The case was then transferred to the CBI and Verma spent two months in jail. The charge of extortion was dropped in the chargesheet, with the Congress pointing out several loopholes in the police and the CBI versions.

A second FIR was registered based on a complaint by Munat, which accused Baghel, Verma and others of disseminating the “fake” CD. In September 2018, Baghel spent three days in jail after he refused to apply for bail.

In June 2018, the case took a new turn when Raipur businessman Rinku Khanuja, who was being questioned by the CBI allegedly committed suicide in his office. On Monday, Congress spokesperson R P Singh said, “We will put forth our case strongly in the Supreme Court and respect the apex court’s decision.” —(With inputs from Dipankar Ghose in Chhattisgarh)