Vijay Singh Mankotia asks for witness examination in defamation case

Shimla: Other than seeking to quash the exemption granted from making a personal appearance to union steel minister Virbhadra Singh in a defamation case slapped by him on his bête noire Vijay Singh Mankotia, the latter has sought cross examination of the complainant as well as head of the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau and Rani Bhagawati as witnesses in the case.

In an application moved before the district court yesterday for cancellation of the exemption permitted, Mankotia stated that the defamation case was filed in August, 2007 after which the complainant had never made any personal appearance or presented himself for being cross examined.

Pointing out that vigilance bureau had registered a case on basis of evidence recorded in an audio CD, allegedly containing the voice of the former chief minister and his wife, in a separate application Mankotia has sought the courts’ to summon DS Minhas, DGP Vigilance, for producing the record of the vigilance case registered as part of the proceeding of the defamation case.

He also asked the court to summon Rani Bhagawati, a resident of Kangra, for producing the correspondence exchanged between her and the former chief minister between 1985 and 1989 as part of the defamation case. The presiding judge after hearing the matter has listed the case for 12th March.

The libel case was file on 4th August, 2007, after Mankotia had released the controversial CD at a media briefing in Dharamshala, in June just a few days before polling to a crucial parliamentary by-election was to take place in Hamirpur wherein Prem Kumar Dhumal was the BJP candidate.

The disputed CD allegedly contains over two decade old recordings of phone conversations about illegal transactions of money.

In his application to the court, Virbhadra had stated that the CD was fabricated and releasing it in the public was a deliberate attempt to malign his reputation.

He also moved the High Court, seeking a ban on public playing of the CD, which was granted.

Separately, the government had the CD’s voice testing conducted at a forensic laboratory in Chandigarh, and based on the contents of the phone conversation recorded in the disc, a graft case was registered in August 2009 by the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau.

Virbhadra moved the High Court to quash the registration of the case, to which the court directed the government not to file a charge-sheet before informing the High Court.

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