Shimla, Aug 30: The Delhi high court adjourned to October 31 the 10-crore disproportionate assets case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh after the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) said the relevant documents can’t be presented as the investigating officer was absent.
Himachal is all set to go to polls in three months, and the next date of hearing will fall very close to the assembly elections.
Singh and his wife are camping in Delhi along with his supporters, and are likely to meet central leaders.
It was in March this year that the CBI filed a detailed chargesheet against Singh, his wife Pratibha and seven other accused of possessing disproportionate assets on the basis of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) findings.
The CBI chargesheet, 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.
The CBI had engaged the IARI in 2016 for inspecting Virbhadra’s orchards to prove that the income stated in his tax returns could not have been generated from the sale of apples.
The CBI has contended “income from production of apples from the said orchard during assessment years 2009-10 to 2012-13 as claimed in the revised tax returns is not sustainable as per technical assessment of IARI.”
The agency’s reference is to a March 2016 IARI report that showed a total of 3,371 trees in the Shimla orchard at time of inspection. Over three-fourth (nearly 2,900) of them had not started bearing fruit before 2008. It also said over 1,700 trees were planted in the past five to six years.
According to the CBI, a preliminary inquiry revealed Singh’s orchard manager Anand Chauhan, who was also his LIC agent, had submitted bills and sale proceeds with “major variations.”
The CBI has charge-sheeted 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 chargesheet also names as accused LIC agent Anand Chauhan, who was arrested in the case and is presently in judicial custody.
Earlier, Virbhadra and his wife Pratibha Singh had appeared in the court on May 22.
Source Hindustan Times