Shimla: Prime witness Maj Vijay Singh Mankotia not being categorical in stating that the voice in a over two decade old recorded telephone conversation was that of former chief minister Virbhadra Singh, in a court hearing of the CD case today, has led the prosecution to hold him as having turned partially hostile.
Presided over by special judge BL Soni the trial court is examining witnesses in the Virbhadra CD case, in which the court has framed charges; following which the accused had to resign from the union cabinet.
Special prosecutor Jiwan Lal let this reporter know that Mankotia in court did accept that he had made the telephone conversation public at a press briefing in June 2007 by distributing CD copies of the taped version.
Regarding the source from where he had obtained the audio tapes, Mankotia in the witness stand testified that an anonymous caller had informed him about the audio cassette in question. Later it was found delivered in a yellow packet at my residential letter box, he let the court know.
When questioned whether the voice in the conversation was that of Virbhadra, Mankotia’s response, ‘in my opinion it is’ was objected to by the prosecution on the grounds that he was retracting from his earlier stance where he was categorical that the voice in the recorded conversation was that of the former chief minister.
“We hold the witness to have become partially hostile,” said Jiwan Lal, special public prosecutor .
However, when contacted by Hill Post, Mankotia said that he had not retracted from any part of his earlier stance.
Another aspect of the high profile case came unhooked when Mankotia said that he still retained the original audio cassette of the telephone recording that was made public.
He even produced the original audio cassette in court; a piece of evidence on which the entire case is based and in all likelihood would have to undergo forensic tests.
During investigation of the case, before charges were framed, Mankotia had handed over a tape to the investigation team that was sent for voice testing to the Chandigarh Forensic Laboratory.
It was on the basis of the forensic report, a clinching piece of evidence being relied upon by the prosecution that the corruption case has been made out.
The prosecution also examined Kavinder Lal, son of deceased bureaucrat Mohinder Lal, who testified that a signature to a document recording the statement of the erstwhile bureaucrat was that of his father.
Key witness PC Jain, a former employee of Ambuja cements and Kapil Mohan, owner of the Mohan Meakin group are scheduled to depose as witnesses before the trial court tomorrow.
Of the 61 witnesses in the case, 24 have deposed, 10 have been left out, summons to 16 were not served and the remaining 11 are to present themselves in court tomorrow.
The graft case slapped on Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh charges the two of them of allegedly having obtained illegal money during 1989-90 in lieu for relaxing laws for the business houses when he was chief minister.
The prosecution is relying on the recorded telephone conversation as it allegedly has the former chief minister talking to deceased bureaucrat Mohinder Lal about illegal money transactions.
On behalf of the defense, senior advocate Rajinder Singh Cheema cross-examined the witnesses.