By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN/Nainital, 20 Sep: The hearing in the Uttarakhand High Court on the sting case allegedly involving veteran Congress leader and former Chief Minister Harish Rawat was deferred till 1 October today. Although Rawat has got temporary relief due to postponement of the hearing, but his woes are far from over in the case. Nor there is relief available to him against a possible arrest in the case. Rawat’s advocate Devdutt Kamath urged the High Court for a hearing tomorrow on his appeal, but the High Court, accepting the request of the Union Government’s counsel on the matter, refused the request and set the next hearing on 1 October instead. The counsel for the Union Government and CBI had requested the court to fix the next hearing in the case on 26 September, but a single bench of the High Court comprising Justice Ramesh Khulbe decided on 1 October. It may be recalled that the sting operation in question is related to the alleged horse- trading of MLAs by the then Chief Minister, Harish Rawat. The Congress and Harish Rawat have described the case as a conspiracy against him and the par ty. The CBI would now submit its preliminary inquiry report to the court at the next hearing. During the hearing, today, Harish Rawat’s advocate Devdutt Kamath demanded a copy of the preliminary inquiry report which the CBI advocate refused to hand over. It is worth mentioning that this goes back to 2017 when a rather controversial news channel editor, Umesh Kumar, conducted a sting operation on then Chief Minister Harish Rawat. In the sting, which went viral in no time, Rawat was seen allegedly discussing the purchase of some rebel MLAs. Initially, Harish Rawat had termed the video as fake. Later, he started claiming that the sting was doctored. It may further be recalled that, after the Centre imposed President’s rule in Uttarakhand, the CBI started investigating the case by registering a case against him on the recommendation of the then Governor of Uttarakhand, KK Paul. However, before the CBI could move to arrest Harish Rawat, the Congress veteran approached the Nainital High Court, claiming the sting was doctored and seeking a stay against a possible arrest in the case. He had also urged the High Court to end the CBI probe. His arrest was then stayed by the High Court on an interim basis. The investigation had lost steam after the reinstatement of Harish Rawat’s government by the Supreme Court. A few months later, the Congress had to face a crushing defeat in the assembly elections, but the investigation in the case did not make any progress. It is now, only following a PIL demanding an inquiry, the CBI has resumed its investigation into the case in pursuance of the High Court order. A preliminary inquiry report has to be submitted to the court in the case on the next hearing. Former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who reached Nainital, today, alleged that the Union Government was misusing the CBI and that the investigation was being done with the intention of destroying his image. He also termed the issue a conspiracy by the Union Government. Rawat also said that the case ought to have been filed against the persons who had plundered the Congress and were now enjoying the fruits of power as sitting MLAs by switching over their loyalty to another party. Meanwhile, Rawat’s advocate Kamat claimed that the CBI’s preliminary inquiry report was incorrect. He said that no FIR had been filed in the case and, even if it was, it would still be illegal. On the question of Harish Rawat’s arrest, he reminded that the High Court had prohibited arrest in the past.