Virbhadra’s audio CD writ deferred for Monday

Shimla: A daylong hearing at the Himachal High Court proved inconclusive regarding admission of a writ petition by union steel minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh before a division bench seeking transfer of investigation in the audio CD case to CBI. The arguments would again be taken up on Monday.

Arguing before the bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Deepak Gupta, senior lawyer RS Cheema on behalf of the petitioners said that his client was being falsely implicated in a case made out on the basis of an audio CD whose very authenticity was questionable.

Terming the CD as a cut and paste job, Cheema pointed out that despite investigations being completed the court was competent to transfer the investigation to CBI, like it had done for cases in Gujarat.

He also questioned the motive of releasing the CD by Vijay Singh Mankotia as it had surfaced just before a crucial parliamentary election.

The petitioners also placed on record two audio CD, saying that in them chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and director general police Daljit Manhas were heard making references about the earlier CD, in which the recorded voices of Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh are heard.

On basis of the material place on record, the petitioners have pleaded for adding Dhumal and Manhas as respondents to the case.

State counsel Satyapal Jain said that since a writ petition under section 482 on the same matter had already been dismissed by a single judge of the High Court, coming back with the same plea under section 226 was not maintainable.

He said that since the petitioners had withdrawn from seeking quashing of the FIR and the investigation in the case stood completed, the petition for a CBI inquiry now was infructuous.

While Jain was still presenting the government side for dismissal of the writ petition, the court adjourned for the day and posted the matter for Monday.

Vibhadra approached the court with a fresh writ on September 14 after one was dismissed by the court on September 3.

While the government has made out a corruption case on the basis of investigations carried out into the contents of the audio CD, in which Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh are allegedly heard talking to deceased bureaucrat Mohinder Lal about illegal money transactions, Virbhadra Singh has been maintaining that the CD is fabricated with the intent of framing him in a false case.

The contentious CD was released by Mankotia in May 2007, just before a parliamentary by-election in which Dhumal was a BJP candidate.

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