Virbhadra Singh to appear in court in graft case

August 31st, 2012 - 7:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Aug 31 (IANS) In what is being seen as a setback to former union minister and chief minister Virbhadra Singh just before the assembly polls, the Himachal Pradesh High Court Friday directed him to face trial in a lower court next week.

Dismissing a petition of Virbhadra Singh, who has been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act along with his wife Pratibha Singh, a division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice D.C. Chaudhary directed the accused and the prosecution to appear in the court of Special Judge B.L. Soni Sep 7.

The bench also accepted the request of the accused to withdraw his petition in the high court.

The petition sought either the transfer of the corruption case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or quashing a police complaint against Virbhadra Singh and his wife.

It also sought that a similar case against Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Director General of Police D.S. Manhas also be investigated.

Virbhadra Singh, who took over as the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief two days ago, and his wife were booked by the police Aug 3, 2009, for alleged misuse of official position and criminal misconduct when he was the chief minister in 1989.

The court of the special judge framed corruption charges against the couple June 25.

While pronouncing the order, Soni said the “materials on record show existence of criminal conspiracy by Virbhadra and Pratibha Singh”.

But the trial court had adjourned the case sine die pending a high court decision on Virbhadra Singh’s petition.

“Charges framed under Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 7, 11 and 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against accused Virbhadra Singh and under Section 120-B of the IPC and Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act against accused Pratibha Singh,” the 31-page trial court order had said.

Elected five times as the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh resigned as the union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises after the framing of charges in a 23-year-old corruption case.

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