Shimla: The prosecution suffered a setback in audio CD graft case against former Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh when its two key witnesses turned hostile.
P C Jain, a former vice-president of Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd., and Kapil Mohan, Managing Director of Mohan Meakin Ltd brewery, while deposing in the court of Special Judge B L
Soni, said that their statements recorded by the prosecution were false.
A day after the witness Vijai Singh Mankotia, who had released the cassette, said that he had not made the audio CD, the two prime witnesses said that they have never offered or gave bribes to Virbhadra Singh, who is now state Congress chief, and his wife Pratibha Singh.
The couple was booked by the state police August 3, 2009 under the prevention of Corruption Act for alleged misuse of official position and criminal misconduct while Singh was chief minister in 1989.
According to police, the couple was booked on the basis of the cassette released by Mankotia, once Virbhadra Singh's political adversary, in 2007.
In the cassette, Virbhadra Singh was purportedly heard referring to some monetary transactions on the phone with Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Mohinder lal, who is now dead.
Retracting from his reported statement given in March 2010, Jain said he had neither met Mohinder Lal, who was state Director, Industries in 1989, nor the then chief minister Virbhadra Singh to facilitate necessary clearances for the company's cement plant in Darlaghat in Solan district.
"Since I never ever met Mohinder Lal or Virbhadra Singh, the question of giving bribe of Rs. 200,000 to then chief minister does not rise," he said.
He also denied his earlier statement to the prosecution about giving a bribe of Rs. 30,00,000 to Pratibha Singh at her residence in Shimla.
The prosecution had claimed that Jain had accompanied Ambuja chairman Suresh Neotia to Himachal Bhawan in New Delhi where the alleged transaction took place with the former chief minister.
During cross-examination, Jain rejected the prosecution charge that he was under the influence of the accused.
"Why should I lie in the court at the age of 85," he said.
Mohan Meakin managing director Kapil Mohan told the court that he never recorded his statement with the prosecution about exchanging money.