A trial court has reserved its order for June 25 over whether corruption charges against Union Minister and five times Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh should be framed or dropped in the audio CD case.
After hearing out the defense lawyers’ arguments in the pre-trial, Court of special judge BL Soni reserved its order till June 25. Defence counsel argued that an audio cassette played in the court May 31 and purportedly containing Virbhadra Singh’s voice was not authentic. On the other hand, the prosecution claimed that the cassette contained the union minister’s voice while referring to some monetary transactions with industrialists. Defence counsel contended that the case was frivolous and it was registered on the basis of an audio cassette whose origin, source and authenticity were not known and in its reply, the prosecution said the cassette was handed over to the investigating agency by Vijay Singh Mankotia, a political rival of Virbhadra Singh, in 2007. Mankotia was once Congress leader and was cabinet Minister in Virbhadra Singh’s cabinet; however he was dropped from his cabinet in controversial reshuffle. Special Public Prosecutor Jiwan Lal Sharma told the court that there was no cut-and-paste of voices in the cassette. Moreover, the Chandigarh-based Central Forensic Science Laboratory authenticated that the voices of Virbhadra Singh and his wife matched with that in the cassette. The prosecution also provided other evidence to prosecute Virbhadra Singh and his wife under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The cassette allegedly contained Virbhadra Singh’s telephonic conversation with Indian Administrative Service officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead. It also contained voices of his wife and some industrialists, who have been identified by police, proposing to invest in the state.
Virbhadra Singh was the Chief Minister when the recording of the cassette was made. He faces charges of misusing his official position and criminal misconduct in 1989. The prosecution filed the charge sheet against the couple in October 2010.