Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife today withdrew her application from a special court in which she had urged the court not to take cognisance of a CBI charge sheet filed against the couple into a disproportionate assets case. After she withdrew the application, Special Judge Virender Kumar Goyal put up the matter for May 3 for decision on taking cognisance of the final report filed against Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh and others alleging that the Chief Minister had amassed assets worth Rs 10 crore which were disproportionate by 192 per cent to his total income during his tenure as a Union Minister. The court allowed Pratibha Singh’s counsel to withdraw the plea, giving him liberty to move it again at a later stage if he wished to.
In her application moved before the court on April 24, the politician’s wife had urged that the court to first decide whether the material relied upon by the CBI in its final report, which was reportedly collected during its probe in the state without taking the Himachal Pradesh government’s approval, can be considered for the purpose of cognisance by the judge or not. In her plea, moved through advocate Vijay Aggarwal, she had claimed that the consent of the concerned state government was a mandatory pre-requisite for the CBI to derive jurisdiction to carry out investigation in any area within the territorial limit of the state. The court was hearing the matter in which the CBI had filed a charge sheet against nine people on March 31 for alleged offences of abetment and forgery, punishable under Indian Penal Code and other offence punishable under Prevention of Corruption Act.
The agency has arrayed around 225 witnesses and 442 documents. Besides the 82-year-old Congress leader and his wife, the CBI has also named LIC agency Anand Chauhan, Universal Apple Associate owner Chunni Lal Chauhan, stamp paper vendor Joginder Singh Ghalta, MD of Tarani Infrastructure V Chandrasekhar among others as accused, charging them with criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption among others. Chauhan was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from Chandigarh on July 9 last year in a money laundering case filed it on the basis of CBI complaint and is currently in the judicial custody. The court had on September 7 last year taken cognisance of the final report against him.
The apex court had on November 5 last year transferred politician’s plea from Himachal Pradesh High Court to Delhi High Court. Both charge sheets by CBI and ED are the outcome of the same offence as alleged by the two agencies. In the final report filed by the ED, the chief minister has not been arrayed as an accused but a witness. The ED charge sheet was filed for offence of money- laundering, punishable under Prevention of Money Laundering Act Act. The ED has said Singh “while serving as a Union minister had invested huge amounts in purchasing LIC policies in his own name and those of his family members through Chauhan”.