In a twist to the disproportionate assets case against Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh, the accountant of an apple trader — who is alleged to have moved money for Virbhadra — recorded his confessional statement before a magistrate in Delhi divulging details that might spell trouble for the Congress leader. A confessional statement is admissible as evidence in court.
Sources said Saroj Singh, an accountant with apple trader Chunni Lal Chauhan, who is an accused in the CBI case against Virbhadra, recorded his statement before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). According to sources, Singh revealed in his statement how money, allegedly belonging to Virbhadra, was moved by Chunni Lal and how records were fudged to show it as agricultural income. CBI had called Singh for questioning Tuesday following which he recorded his statement before a magistrate Thursday.
Meanwhile, Chunni Lal’s son Nishant Chauhan filed a habeas corpus writ petition before Delhi High Court Thursday over “disappearance of Singh” after CBI called him for questioning. The matter was taken up by a division bench of Justice GS Sistani and Justice S Dhingra Sehgal. A CBI source said that during the hearing, Saroj Singh, who was then getting his statement recorded at the Patiala House Court detailing about “fabrication of records to justify the claimed agricultural income by Virbhadra Singh”, was brought to the high court to be examined about his whereabouts in the last two days. The high court dismissed the petition after Singh said he had appeared before the CBI for recording his statement and was staying at the residence of his relative in Adarsh Nagar, said sources.
A CBI officer said that the “filing of such petition appears to be a desperate move by the accused in the backdrop of the strong documentary and oral evidence collected by CBI in the case”.
The CBI has been carrying out an inquiry against Virbhadra and his family members for allegedly amassing disproportionate wealth adding up to Rs 6.03 crore during his tenure as steel minister in the UPA-II government.
In June 2015, the CBI filed a Preliminary Enquiry (PE), which was converted into an FIR under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act on September 23. The CBI case is broadly based on the irregularities found by the Income Tax department and later confirmed during the PE.
“The CBI has registered a case against then Union Minister, his wife, two private persons and unknown others on September 23, on the allegations of possession of disproportionate assets. This FIR was the outcome of a Preliminary Enquiry which revealed that then Union Minister, while serving during 2009-2012, had allegedly accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore (approx) in his name and in the name of his family members which were found to be disproportionate to his known sources of income. The other persons named in the FIR had allegedly abetted then Union Minister in committing the offence,” CBI had said in a statement earlier.