Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh needed to be further questioned in connection with a money laundering case against him, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told Delhi High Court today. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain told Justice Vipin Sanghi that Pratibha Singh did not have answers to several questions put to her during questioning on August 9 and some documents were also sought from her.
The ASG’s submission came after a lawyer appearing on behalf of Pratibha sought a passover as senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who is representing her, was in the Supreme Court. The ASG said that instead of a passover, the matter can be heard on a later date as there was no urgency. The court then listed the matter for hearing on September 23.
The court was hearing Pratibha’s plea seeking a direction to ED not to take any coercive step against her in the wake of the arrest of an LIC agent in the case. On August 8, ED had told the court it had no intention as of now to arrest her and would inform the court beforehand in case of doing so.
On July 29, the court had asked ED not to take any coercive step against her on August 9 when she appeared before it to record her statement. It had also said in case ED wanted to further question her, it will have to give reasons. Besides his wife, Singh has also moved the court, seeking protection from arrest in the case.
In his plea, Singh has said he apprehended that ED might arrest him on the basis of an alleged disclosure statement of insurance agent Anand Chauhan, who was recently arrested from Chandigarh in connection with the case. Chauhan was arrested by ED under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as he was allegedly not cooperating with the investigating officer of the case.
The probe agency had alleged that Singh, while serving as Union Steel Minister, had invested huge amounts in purchasing LIC policies in his and his family members’ names through Chauhan. ED had last year lodged the case against Singh and others under PMLA after taking cognisance of a criminal complaint filed by CBI in this regard.