Recording of evidence begins in Virbhadra graft case

Shimla: A trial court here Tuesday began recording of evidence against former union minister Virbhadra Singh in a corruption case pending against him since 2009.

The court of Special Judge B.L. Soni in September fixed six days for recording of evidence of 63 prosecution witnesses. The recording will be over Nov 17.

Special Public Prosecutor Jiwan Lal Sharma said that four witnesses recorded their statements, while four others, including former bureaucrat S.M. Katwal, could not appear as summons were not served on them.

Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh, a former parliamentarian, were booked by Himachal Pradesh Police Aug 3, 2009, under the Prevention of Corruption Act for alleged misuse of official position and criminal misconduct when he was chief minister in 1989.

According to the police, the couple was booked on the basis of an audio cassette released by Virbhadra Singh’s then political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia in 2007.

The cassette allegedly contained Virbhadra Singh’s telephonic conversation with Indian Administrative Service officer Mohinder Lal, who is now dead.

It also purportedly contained voices of Pratibha Singh and some industrialists, who have been identified by the police, proposing to invest in the state.

The trial court, while framing the graft charges against the couple June 25, observed that the “materials on record show existence of criminal conspiracy by Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh”.


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