Common Cause seeks CBI/SIT probe against Virbhadra
An application was filed by NGO Common Cause Friday in the Delhi High Court seeking a court-monitored investigation by the CBI or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into allegations of corruption against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
The application filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged that Virbhadra Singh accepted bribe from business firm while holding the post of chief minister.
It said that he accepted Rs.1.5 crore and Rs. 2.4 crore through cheques in his and his wife and MP Pratibha Singh's name from Venture Energy and Technology Pvt. Ltd., which was executing a power project in the state.
The NGO said that bribery and corruption allegation are serious charges and need a thorough independent investigation.
"In the affidavit filed by Singh on Oct 17, 2012 for contesting the election to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, there is no reference to any loan received by him or his wife from M/s Venture Energy or any of its promoters.
"However, when Mrs. Pratibha Singh, his wife, contested the subsequent by-election to Lok Sabha, she disclosed in her affidavit dated May 30, 2013 that Vakamulla Chandersekhar had given an unsecured loan of Rs 1.50 crore to her and Rs.2.40 crore to Singh," the application said.
It added that leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely has also levelled the same allegation against the Himachal chief minister.
An additional application was filed with the pending PIL in the court against Singh seeking inquiry into the corruption allegations when he was union steel minister.
A division bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Rajiv Shahai Endlaw is likely to hear the matter on Jan 15.
The court had earlier during the hearing of PIL had sought a status report from the CBI on a complaint filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan.
Bhushan had moved the high court contending that a complaint has been made to the CBI but it has not bothered to initiate an investigation.
However, CBI counsel had told the court that the agency has received the complaint and it is already investigating the case.
The PIL filed by Bhushan stated that there were several primary documents like income tax returns and affidavits filed with nomination papers linking the Congress leader to "dubious transactions" and investments involving large sums of money when he was a minister in the central government.
But neither the government nor any of its agencies bothered to initiate an investigation even after they were formally requested to do so by the petitioner, Bhushan said.
He made detailed complaints to the chief vigilance commissioner (CVC) and the CBI on Jan 11.
"Several acts of money laundering, corruption, possession of disproportionate assets and criminal misconduct were allegedly committed by Virbhadra Singh, which warrant a thorough and impartial investigation. But the same has not been initiated despite well documented complaints made by the petitioner," the plea said.
It added that even the allegations fully supported by primary documents and which have been in public domain for months were not been probed.
"Inaction of the government in ordering a fair and independent investigation despite there being a serious case of misuse of office for personal gain would encourage corruption in the country," the PIL submitted.
It had sought direction to the CBI and the income tax department to initiate an investigation under the supervision of the court or the CVC into the charges of "money laundering, corruption, possession of disproportionate assets, criminal misconduct against Virbhadra Singh".
The petition also added that Virbhadra Singh filed the IT returns for assessment years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 showing agricultural income of Rs.735,000, Rs.1,500,000 and Rs.2,500,000, respectively. This income is exempt under the IT Act.
"In 2012, in order to explain the unaccounted money, Virbhadra Singh filed revised IT returns for assessment year 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 showing revised agricultural income, showing an increase of 18 to 30 fold of income in the three years."
"The total increase in agricultural income amounted to Rs.6.10 crore," the petition said.
(Posted on 10-01-2014)