Himachal High Court Reserves Order in Virbhadra’s Audio CD Plea

Shimla: With arguments in the writ seeking transfer of investigations to CBI in the audio CD case against union steel minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh completed, the division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Jospeh and Justice Deepak Gupta today reserved the order.

At the end of the arguments, neither a stay for filing the challan in the trial court was granted nor notices were issued to Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and police chief Daljit Manhas. Speaking for the bench Chief Justice Joseph said, “The order stands reserved, which will be made known soon.”

Earlier, government counsel Satyapal Jain citied various Supreme Court judgments in support of his argument that the plea under section 226 needed to be dismissed with costs as a single bench judge of the court had already dismissed a similar petition under section 482.

He said that there was no malafide against the petitioner in the case as the investigation was done on the basis of a report by an police officer, who is currently serving as private secretary to the union minister. Jain also said Dhumal and Manhas were wrongly being sought to be made party to the case.

RS Cheema, counsel for Virbhadra Singh, pleaded for transfer of the investigation to CBI on the grounds that the present investigation was manuplative.

He pointed out that different yardsticks had been applied while investigating the audio CD against his client and another one against Dhumal and Manhas in a different set of 2 CDs. References to the audio CD against his client can be heard in the CDs of Dhumal and Manhas recorded conversations and need to impartially investigated, said Cheema.

While no efforts had by the investigating agency in establishing the source of the audio CD against Virbhadra Singh, but in the Dhumal and Manhas CDs, the content has not been investigated and only efforts to track the origin and source of the 2 CDs are being made,” he added.

The arguments resumed today after partial hearing was completed on Friday. Vibhadra approached the High Court with a fresh writ on September 14 after an earlier one seeking transfer of the investigation was dismissed on September 3.

The government has slapped a corruption case against Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh on basis of an investigation carried out into the contents of the audio CD that Vijay Singh Mankotia had made public in May 2007.

The CD reportedly contains recorded telephonic conversations of Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh with a deceased bureaucrat Mohinder Lal, wherein allegedly mention about illegal money transactions is made.

Virbhadra Singh has maintained the audio CD is an attempt to frame him through a manipulated investigation and has pleaded before the court to transfer the investigation to a central agency.

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