Free Press Journal

Delhi HC asks for CBI, tax records against Virbhadra Singh


New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday called for all records of the CBI and the Income Tax department in a case of alleged corruption and money laundering against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Income tax department to submit their complete records by Sep 1, the next date of hearing.

There are allegations of corruption, money laundering and possession of assets disproportionate to known sources of his income against Virbhadra Singh.

The court’s direction came after advocate Prashant Bhushan said that despite lapse of two years, the CBI has not completed its preliminary inquiry in the case and the CBI director was preventing the registration of a first information report (FIR) against Virbhadra Singh.

“The CBI director is preventing registration of FIR in the matter… so the court should call for entire records of the CBI because two years have passed…,” Bhushan argued.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Common Cause through advocate Bhushan seeking a CBI inquiry into the corruption and money laundering allegations against Virbhadra Singh when he was union steel minister.

Bhushan also said that if the documents filed along with the petition are placed in trial, “Virbhadra Singh would surely get convicted for disproportionate assets, corruption and money laundering”.

The Income Tax department in its investigation has found over Rs.20 crore of unaccounted money, disproved all explanations by Virbhadra Singh and has proceeded against him, Bhushan told the bench.

Despite the Income Tax department findings, the CBI has been conducting an inquiry and has still not registered even an FIR in complete violation of law, he said.

Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Virbhadra Singh, refuted the claims.

During the last hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain had said it was a “clear case of money laundering”.

The plea said there were several primary documents like income tax returns and affidavits filed with nomination papers linking Congress leader Virbhadra Singh to “dubious transactions” and investments involving large sums of money when he was a minister in the central government.

It said that even the allegations fully supported by primary documents and which have been in the public domain for months were not probed.

The plea sought direction to the CBI and the Income Tax department to initiate an investigation under the supervision of the court or the Central Vigilance Commission into charges of money laundering, corruption, possession of disproportionate assets, and criminal misconduct against Virbhadra Singh.

The petition said Virbhadra Singh filed tax returns for assessment years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, showing agricultural income of Rs.7.35 lakh, Rs.15 lakh and Rs.25 lakh, respectively. This income is exempt under the Income Tax Act.

“In 2012, in order to explain the unaccounted money, Virbhadra Singh filed revised tax 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.6.1 crore,” the petition said.