Himachal High Court Turns Down Virbhadra’s Plea For CBI Probe Into Audio CD Case

Shimla: The Himachal High Court threw out a writ petition by Union Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh, seeking transfer of investigation in a corruption case in the infamous audio CD case.

Dismissing the petition, the division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Deepak Gupta observed  “we do not find it as the appropriate stage for the petitioners to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India as an appropriate case for change of investigating agency.”

After recording the facts, the bench also refused to issue notices to Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Director General Police (DGP) Daljit Manhas, whom the petitioners had sought to include as respondents in the case.

The court order states that a case under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 was registered on 3.8.2009 against Virbhadra under section 13 (1)(d)(ii) & (iii) read with Section 13 (2) for misuse of his official position as chief minister for collecting amounts from various industrialists, with active support and connivance of his wife.

A CD pertaining to the conversation of the alleged transactions, released by Vijay Singh Mankotia on 28.5.2007, forms the basis of the FIR.

The union steel minister and his wife approached the High Court with CrMP under Section 482 for quashing of the FIR and sought transfer of investigation to CBI or another agency outside the state.

During pendency of the case, the petitioners also moved the court under CrMP 140, 2010 for including Dhumal and Manhas as additional respondents, alleging that the whole investigation against them was on account of conspiracy as was revealed in two subsequent CDs that were produced in court.

The High Court dismissed this on 28th June on the grounds that no case is made out for impleadment of new respondents.

In the meantime the State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau –  the investigation agency informed the court that the investigation into the Virbhadra audio case had been completed.

The courts restrained the, investigation agency from filing the charge sheet in the case till disposal of the petition under section CrMP 482. A single bench judge dismissed the petition on 3rd September, 2010 while observing that without considering the material collected by the investigation agency “it cannot be said that the case is fir or not for CBI investigation”.

Concurring with the earlier order, the division bench, while the dismissing the petition in its order today stated “it would all depend on the materials collected by the police and presented before the (trial) Court, be it on authenticity or source.”

“In the above circumstances, we do not find it as the appropriate stage for the petitioners to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court,” the court noted.

For Complete Court Order: http://hphighcourt.nic.in/inetjudord/judgements/CWP57612010.pdf

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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