Shimla:Â The Himachal Vidhan Sabha witnessed heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches over registration of a criminal case against union steel minister Virbhadra Singh that descended into slogan shouting before congress members staged a walkout in protest.
As the question hour ended, Vidya Stokes, opposition leader was on her feet raising a point of order seeking a clarification from chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal as to how vigilance had filed a case whereas the chief minister who is also the home minister had claimed ignorance over such a development before the media.
The opposition leader held that not just union steel minister but congressmen at all levels were being targeted by the governmentÂ by filing false cases. She added that the case against the union steel minister was politically motivated as the government was to face by-election in two assemblies soon.
In response the chief minister let the house know that it was on 22, November 2007 when there was a congress government in the state and Virbhadra Singh was the chief minister that the then advocate general had sent the CD in question for a vigilance inquiry.
â€œIt is only on investigation of that inquiry that a case stands registered, he said.
Drawing up a timeline, Dhumal said that the CD was made public by Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, a congressmen then, on 28th May, 2007. The party had approached both the court and the election commission seeking a ban of public use of the CD contents.
Virbhadra Singh in August 2007 filed a criminal case against Mankotia and submitted an affidavit before the court stating that the voice in the tape was not his. On 22 November, 2007, SM Katwal filed an PIL stating that the government was not trying to verify the voices in the recorded conversation, said Dhumal.
All this happened during the congress government, where does BJP come into it, he asked?
On 16th February 2008 another complaint was filed.
On 2nd May, 2008 vigilance department recorded the statement of Mohinder Lal, the deceased IAS officer, whose voice is also in the tapes. On 7th May, 2008 statement of SM Katwal was recorded and on 21 May, 2008, Mankotia handed over the original tape, CD copies of which were made public by him.
On 23rd May the tapes were sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh, (CFSL) for voice matching and the lab submitted a report in August, 2008 certifying that the voices on tape matched with a voice sample voice sent along.
During then and now people under RTI have started demanding what action the government has taken after it has received the CFSL report, the chief minister said.
The matter was examined at the department level both by home and law department. After that it was the Vigilance department call when to register a case, which I was unaware of when the media queried me about it on Monday, said Dhumal.
As Virbhadra Singh has given an affidavit in the High Court that the voice on the tape is not his, onus to prove it was his and if any other congress legislator also feels so, he or she could also file an affidavit in court with only one corollary that in case the affidavit is wrong, a forgery case could be filed against the person.
This provoked the congress members and heated words were exchanged between members of the ruling party, who were trying to shout them down.
Led by Vidya Stokes, Kaul Singh Thakur Â with Mukesh Angihotri leading the sloganeering all the congress members walked out.
Later Dhumal said that without any issues a directionless Congress was making much ado about nothing as the vigilance department had yet to investigate the matter and file its report in the matter.