The Supreme Court Wednesday suspended the trial of former railway minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief in an alleged corruption case.
The apex court bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi also issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking its reply within two weeks on the former railway minister's plea.
In a case dating back to 1995, Sharief is facing charges of misusing his office and causing loss to the public exchequer by taking along with him his personal staff on a visit to London for a heart surgery.
Appearing for Sharief, senior counsel P.P. Rao told the court that the CBI was trying to "make mountain out of a mole hill".
Describing Jaffar Sharief as "innocent", Rao told the court that as a railway minister he was entitled to take his personal staff along with him.
The former railway minister is accused of taking along with him his personal aides, including then additional private secretary B.N. Nagesh, stenos S.M. Masthan and V. Muralidharn and driver C.H. Samaullah to London.
Sharief moved the apex court challenging a Delhi High Court order that rejected his appeal against the trial court rejection of a closure report filed by the CBI and instead taking cognizance of the case against him.
The CBI alleged that Sharief forced the managing directors of two public sector undertakings to sanction travel expenses for four of his employees.
The trial court Tuesday framed charges against Sharief and fixed Aug 21 for commencing the proceedings.
On May 10, the apex court declined to entertain Sharief's plea to restrain the trial court from framing charges against him.