CBI Court Summons Chief Minister’s Wife In Assets Case

Shimla May, 9: A CBI court summoned Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha as accused in a disproportionate assets case. Special Judge Virender Kumar Goyal directed summons to them to appear before him on May 22. The CBI has charged Virbhadra with amassing unaccounted wealth to the extent of about Rs 6 crore while being a Union minister during the check period (May 28, 2009, to June 26, 2012). He had invested the money in LIC policies in his name, that of his wife and other family members.

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Virbhadra has disputed the charge contending he purchased the policies out of the income from his apple orchard, Srikhand Orchard, at Damrali village in Shimla district. He entered into a memorandum of understanding with LIC agent Anand Chauhan on June 15, 2008, for management of his orchard. The trial court also directed the presence of six other accused in the case on May 22. They are Chunni Lal Chauhan, Joginder Singh Ghalta, Prem Raj, Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, Lawan Kumar Roach and Ram Prakash Bhatia.

Earlier, the Delhi High Court allowed the CBI to file the chargesheet by rejecting the objections raised by Virbhadra and the Himachal government. The CBI had maintained in the HC that the agency did not require Himachal Pradesh Government’s consent to investigate the DA case against Virbhadra and others. Additional Solicitor General PS Patwalia pleaded that the agency had the jurisdiction to register the case in Delhi as the assets were accumulated while Virbhadra Singh was a Union Minister.

Virbhadra’s counsel had argued that since the DA was in Himachal, the investigation agency was supposed to have taken the state government’s permission for conducting the probe. The CBI has registered a fresh case against Virbhadra Singh after closing the first preliminary inquiry for lack of evidence. The agency pleaded it was duty-bound to conduct further investigation in the light of fresh evidence in the form of LIC policies purchased in the name of Virbhadra Singh and his family members.

News Source Tribune India

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