The controversial audio-cassette,purportedly containing the voice of Union minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh,a former Congress MP,discussing some monetary transactions with a former IAS officer Mohinder Lal was played in the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday during the hearing of the corruption case registered against both the leaders.
Special Judge (anti-corruption) B L Soni allowed the prosecution to play the cassette as part of the evidence on the basis of which the State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VB) had lodged an FIR against former state CM Virbhadra Singh and his wife in 2009.
Special public prosecutor Jiwan Lal Sharma said that evidence was provided to the court to prosecute Virbhadra Singh under sections 10 and 13 and his wife under sections 8 and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. He informed that the cassette contained nine talks recorded at different intervals.
Earlier,Soni had directed the prosecution to provide copies of the original audio-cassette which were handed over to Virbhadras lawyers. The cassette was tested at the Central Forensic Science Lab (CFSL) in Chandigarh.
The court declined to grant any relief to two industrialists – Brig (Rtd) Kapil Mohan of M/S Mohan Meankins Limited and Prem Chand Jain,former vice-president with Gujarat Ambuja company .
In the audio record,Mohinder Lal – then a serving IAS officer (who died sometime back) – had referred to two industrialists. Based on this,the VB cited the two industrialist as prime witnesses in the corruption case.
However Mohan and Jain filed petitions in the high court seeking relief to drop their names from the police chargesheet alleging that the investigating officer had not recorded their statement. The petition was dismissed. Virbhadra was the chief minister when the cassette was recorded. Later,the cassette was converted into a compact disc for circulation among the media by Major (retd) Vijai Singh Mankotia,former Congress minister in 2007.
The court had thrice rejected Virbhadras plea to quash the Vigilance FIR. The case will come up for hearing on June 6.