Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh today appeared as accused in a special court here in connection with a nearly Rs 10 crore disproportionate assets case and sought bail. Besides the 82-year-old Congress leader and his wife, the other accused, who have been chargesheeted in the case by the CBI, also appeared before the court and moved their respective bail pleas.
Special Judge Virender Kumar Goyal posted the matter for arguments on May 29 after the CBI said they needed some time to file a reply to the bail pleas. The Chief Minister, clad in a grey safari suit, came to the court amid tight security and was accompanied by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who was present during the court proceedings.
As the hearing commenced, a battery of senior advocates, including R S Cheema, Ramesh Gupta and Rebecca John, who were appearing for these accused, moved the bail applications. The CBI prosecutor told the judge that they needed some time to go through the bail pleas and file a response.
After the hearing, Digvijay Singh, while talking to scribes outside the court premises, launched an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that he was using agencies like the CBI, ED and NIA to clamp down on the opposition.
“Modi is trying to clamp down on the opposition using the tools of CBI, NIA and ED and putting fake cases against them. Their own leaders spent over Rs 500 crore in marriage while the demonetisation drive was on and their own people are involved in terrorism,” he said. “He is framing innocents. The CBI was a caged parrot; now so is the NIA and ED. The directors are given extensions as carrots,” Digvijaya Singh said.
The CBI has chargesheeted Virbhadra Singh, his wife, Universal Apple Associate owner Chunni Lal Chauhan, stamp paper vendor Joginder Singh Ghalta, Managing Director of Tarani Infrastructure Vakamulla Chandrasekhar and co-accused Lawan Kumar Roach, Prem Raj and Ram Prakash Bhatia for the alleged offences including criminal conspiracy, forgery and corruption.
The charge sheet also names as accused LIC agent Anand Chauhan, who was arrested in the case and is presently in judicial custody. Chauhan did not move bail plea today. The court had on May 8 summoned them after taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed by the CBI.
The CBI charge sheet, running into over 500 pages having around 225 witnesses and 442 documents, has claimed that Singh had amassed assets worth around Rs 10 crore which were disproportionate to his total income during his tenure as a Union minister.
Chauhan was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on July 9 last year in a separate money laundering case related to the DA case. The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court, which on April 6, 2016 had asked the CBI not to arrest Singh and directed him to join the probe.
On November 5 last year, the apex court had transferred Singh’s plea from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to the Delhi High Court, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but “simply” transferring the petition “in interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment”.