Trouble coming for Virbhadra Singh, as Centre tightens its noose in graft cases

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Virbhadra Singh
The Union Government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that a prima facie case of money laundering appeared to be made out against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

What has the Delhi High Court said?

  • A bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini asked the Income Tax Department to file before it the tax assessment record and other documents of the Himachal Chief Minister within a week. The HC also expressed its desire to peruse status reports filed by the CBI in the case, in the meantime.

What has the Central Government said?

  • Appearing on the behalf of Centre, Additional Solicitor-General Sanjay Jain told the court, "There was enough prima facie material available on record to say that a money laundering case is made out against respondent no. 5 (Virbhadra Singh)."
  • The ASG was responding to the submission made by Prashant Bhushan, who is representing NGO Common Cause, that an undue delay has been caused by the investigating agency in registering an FIR despite the fact that there is sufficient material to prosecute the Chief Minister.

Graft charges against Virbhadra

There are allegations of corruption and bribery against the Congress leader during his tenure as chief minister of Himachal Pradesh in 2002.

  • Senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha accused him of indulging in an "open-and-shut" case of corruption by taking bribe from a private power firm for granting it a 10-month extension to complete a project.
  • Jaitley had written to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding a probe by the CBI and Income Tax authorities into the issue and two older allegations of corruption against Singh.
  • Jaitley alleged that Virbhadra Singh accepted money in his name and that of his MP wife, Pratibha Singh.
  • A quid pro quo was offered by the firm to Virbhadra and his family around the same time, Jaitley had said.
  • Venture Energy and Technology Pvt Ltd had defaulted on a contract awarded in 2002 concerning hydropower project work in Himachal Pradesh but was given an extension to complete the job. Later Virbhadra's cabinet granted a 10-month extension to the firm.
  • When his wife contested the Mandi parliamentary bypoll, her affidavit disclosed that the promoter of the company, Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, had given an unsecured loan of Rs 1.5 crore to her and Rs 2.4 crore to Virbhadra Singh.
  • During his tenure as Union Steel Minister, Virbhadra was allegedly involved in money laundering, illegal assets and criminal misconduct. His earnings increased manifold at the time, revealed his IT documents.

Virbhadra's brazen defence

  • Virbhadra claimed that his income was from his apple orchards. The case against me was politically motivated, he claimed.
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