The Delhi High Court today refused to quash the money laundering case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, his wife and son. The court dismissed the petitions of Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh, son Vikramaditya Singh and another person Chunni Lal. “The petitions are devoid of substance, consequentially the same are dismissed,” Justice R K Gauba said. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had earlier summoned 83- year-old Singh, his wife and son for questioning in this regard. The ED had in September 2015 lodged the case against the chief minister and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after taking cognisance of a criminal complaint filed by the CBI. The court had earlier reserved the judgement after hearing arguments of the counsel for ED, Singh and others on the petitions. The CBI had filed a charge sheet on March 31, hours after the high court refused to quash the FIR lodged against Singh and his wife in the disproportionate assets case.
The high court, which had rubbished the chief minister’s claim that the FIR was the result of a “political vendetta”, had paved the way for criminal proceedings which were stalled due to an October 1, 2015 order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court restraining the CBI from arresting, interrogating and filing the charge sheet against the accused.
The ED had earlier termed as “premature” Singh’s plea for quashing of the money laundering case proceedings. It had said the plea seeking a stay on the proceedings was “not maintainable” as the inquiry into the matter was at a preliminary stage. The agency is probing allegations against Singh and his family members of having amassed wealth of Rs 6.1 crore disproportionate to his known sources of income between 2009 and 2011 when he was the Union minister of steel. It has also attached assets worth about Rs 14 crore in this case under the PMLA.
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In July 2016, LIC agent Anand Chauhan was arrested by the ED under provisions of the PMLA as he was allegedly not cooperating with the investigating officer of the case. The probe agency had alleged that Singh, while serving as the Union minister, had invested huge amounts in purchasing LIC policies in his and his family members’ names through Chauhan.