A day after it declined to give an undertaking to the Delhi High Court that it would not arrest Virbhadra Singh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister for over nine hours Thursday at its office in New Delhi. The questioning, which continued until 9.30 pm, was conducted in connection with an alleged money laundering case against him.
Singh arrived at the ED office in his official car, its beacon covered, around noon. He refused to speak to reporters waiting outside, raised his fist and recited “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai, dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e-qaatil mein hai” — from Bismil Azimabadi’s Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna, immortalised by revolutionaries during India’s freedom struggle.
Sources said Singh was questioned about his assets, a farmhouse he bought with money taken from a businessman and his agricultural income. He was also shown documents that the agency had seized during searches. “He was questioned in detail with regard to the case. If the need arises, he will be questioned again,” an ED officer said.
The agency had summoned Singh earlier too but he had excused himself citing official commitments. Last week, Singh sent ED a communication stating reasons for not being able to appear before the agency and had sought a new date. Thereafter, fresh summons were issued for Thursday.
On Wednesday, the ED declined to give an undertaking in the Delhi High Court that it would not arrest Singh when he appears for it. The submission was made before Justice R K Gauba during the hearing of Singh’s plea for quashing of the money laundering proceedings against him.
The ED summons followed a chargesheet which the CBI filed against Singh, his wife and others for allegedly amassing assets worth around Rs 10 crore, disproportionate to their known sources of income.
The agency has already questioned his wife Pratibha and son Vikramaditya in connection with the case.
The ED case is based on a corruption case filed by CBI. According to CBI, Singh invested his alleged unaccounted money in LIC policies by showing it as agricultural income.
He is also facing an Income Tax investigation into his revised I-T returns for three years (2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12) since these showed a massive surge — from Rs 7.34 lakh, Rs 15 lakh and Rs 25 lakh to Rs 2.21 crore, Rs 2.80 crore and Rs 1.55 crore respectively. Singh had attributed this to high sales from his apple orchards.
The ED has attached assets worth about Rs 14 crore in the case. The latest attachment in the case was that of a farmhouse, valued at over Rs 27 crore, in Delhi.