Shimla: Union Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife were on Monday slapped with charges of conspiracy and corruption in a 23-year-old case by a special court which held that there was sufficient evidence to proceed against them.
Charges were framed against 78-year-old Singh, Union Minister for Small, Micro and Medium Industries, and his wife under Section 120 B (conspiracy) of IPC and Sections 7,11 and 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) dealing with bribery and criminal misconduct.
Special Judge B L Soni, who had reserved orders on June 6, said sufficient evidence existed for framing of charges against Singh and his wife. The case against Singh goes back to 1989 when he was Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. The charges are based on an audio CD that purportedly contains a conversation with IAS officer Mohinder Lal and some industrialists regarding monetary transactions for them to invest in the state.
They were booked in the case on August 3, 2009, on the basis of the CD released by former Congress Minister Vijay Singh Mankotia in May 2007 and the prosecution filed the case in the court of special judge in October 2010.
Singh rubbished the allegations. He said the case was "totally fabricated" by the BJP government in the state which is "after my blood".
"This is a concocted, totally fabricated case. The CD is not authenticated. They have not compared my voice. I don't care for my office at all. I don't want to embarrass my party and my Prime Minister," he told reporters when asked about the court order.
The trial in the case would not start immediately as a case filed by Singh in the high court, seeking quashing of the FIR or transferring the investigations to the CBI, is pending.
A division bench of the High Court, comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice V K Ahuja had on January 7 last declined to give any relief to the Singh and his wife on their plea to quash the case or refer it to CBI and stay the proceedings in the trial court and asked them to appear before the trial court.

Congress reacts cautiously

Congress on Monday reacted cautiously to reports that charges were framed against Union Minister Virbhadra Singh in a graft case.

Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters that he could not offer any immediate comment as the party takes a view in such matters only after going through the charges.
Besides, he said, the matter will have to be looked into by the Prime Minister, too, as Singh is also a member of his Cabinet.


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