Shimla: A day ahead of senior congress leader Virbhadra Singh taking oath as chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, a trial court here acquitted him and his wife Pratibha Singh of corruption and other charges in the CD case.
Singh’s senior counsel Shravan Dogra let Hill Post know that the trail court after hearing out 39 of the 61 witnesses in the case acquitted Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh of all charges.
“We have come out as clean as we had gone before the courts’ said Dogra. Only 39 witnesses were produced before the judge and the remaining were dropped by the prosecution, he added.
“None of the witnesses in the case had deposed against Virbhadra Singh or Pratibha Singh,” said Dogra.
The trail was held before special judge BL Soni. Special public prosecutor Jiwan Lal, who was heading the prosecution team, had resigned from the position on December 20, the day the assembly election results were declared.
Talking to Hill Post, Jiwan Lal said, “I’m no longer part of the prosecution team as I resigned on December 20.”
Earlier two key prosecution witnesses, Kapil Mohan, owner of Mohan Meakin Breweries, and a retired manager with Gujarat Ambuja, PC Jain had denied that any illegal money was transacted for obtaining clearance to their industrial projects in 1989-90.
The prosecution had produced Mohan as a witness holding that he had authorized an employee HN Handa to bribe the authorities for avoiding an investment of about Rs 6 crore involved in installing effluent treatment plant at Solan brewery. However, Mohan as the key witness in court had denied that any such thing had ever happened.
The other prosecution witness PC Jain was declared hostile after he denied in court that no money was handed to Virbhadra Singh in 1989. The prosecution had held that money in presence of Ambuja cement chairman Suresh Neotia was handed over to Virbhadra Singh at Himachal Bhawan, Delhi, in 1989, for obtaining clearance for setting up a cement plant in the state.
The prosecution had claimed in a testimony attributed to have been recorded at Jain’s residence by the investigation team that another Rs 2 lakhs had been given to Pratibha Singh.
The corruption case had been made out on basis of a telephonic conversation recording made on a audio tape that had claimed to voices of Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh talking about illegal money transactions with deceased bureaucrat Mohinder Lal.
CD copies of the recorded conversation were released to the media by congress leader Vijay Singh Mankotia at Dharamsala in May, 2007 in the midst of a parliamentary bye-election for Hamirpur seat in which Prem Kumar Dhumal was the BJP candidate.
However, when Mankotia took the witness stand in the trial, he let the court know that the voice in the conversation in his opinion appeared to be that of Virbhadra Singh but was not sure about it; a stand which the prosecution held to be partially hostile.
Earlier Mankotia was categorical that the voice in the conversation was that of Virbhadra Singh and the conversation was of a time when he was chief minister in the 1983-1989 period.