Charge sheet to be filed against Virbhadra


Shimla : A charge sheet is likely to be filed against Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh Friday after the Himachal Pradesh High Court dismissed his plea to transfer a corruption case against him to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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Himachal Pradesh Vigilance Bureau Inspector General K.C. Sadyal told IANS that a charge sheet is likely to be filed against the union minister and his wife Pratibha Singh in a special court here later in the day.

On the very first day of the hearing in the Himachal Pradesh High Court Sep 17, state counsel Satyapal Jain had asserted that the government was ready to file the charge sheet in the trial court but would not do so till the matter was pending with the high court.

A division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Deepak Gupta Thursday observed that it was not a fit case for transferring the probe to the CBI at this point of time.

Virbhadra Singh had sought the case transfer to the CBI under Article 226 of the constitution, which deals with special powers of high courts.

He petitioned the high court that the government registered a case against him and his wife Aug 3, 2008, after Prem Kumar Dhumal became chief minister in December 2007, under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of an audio CD released by his political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia in 2007.

In the CD, Virbhadra Singh was purportedly heard referring to some monetary transactions on the phone with Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead. The CD also contained the voices of his wife and some industrialists.

Virbhadra Singh, five-time former chief minister, moved the high court Sep 14 and sought that a similar case also be investigated against Dhumal and Director General of Police D.S. Manhas.

However, the division bench observed “the case is under investigation and it is not appropriate for the court to comment”.

He prayed that when the two audio CDs surfaced – both allegedly containing voices of Dhumal and one containing the voice of Manhas in January this year – the government adopted different yardsticks for their investigation.

In the alleged conversation recorded in one of the CDs, Manhas, the then vigilance chief, was heard asking Dhumal about tapping the phones of Virbhadra Singh and his wife. At this Dhumal replied: “Do it.”

Advocate General R.S. Bawa told reporters: “The case was dismissed in toto.”

The high court Sep 27 reserved its order after hearing arguments of both parties for three days.

On the first day of hearing of the case, the state government gave verbal undertaking in the court that a charge sheet against him would not be filed till the matter is pending in the court.

Earlier, a single bench of the high court Sep 3 turned down the minister’s petition to transfer the case to the CBI under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

At that time, Justice Kuldip Singh suspended the implementation of the judgment for 15 days to enable the petitioner approach the Supreme Court.