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PMLA case: Ex-HP CM Virbhadra Singh, wife summoned by court

New Delhi: A special court today summoned former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, his wife and three others as accused in a Rs 7 crore money laundering case.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.
Special court today summoned Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife and three others as accused in a Rs 7 crore money laundering case..

Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann said there was “prima facie” enough evidence against the accused persons and directed them to appear before the court on March 22.

The Enforcement Directorate had chargesheeted 83-year-old Singh, accusing him of projecting around Rs 7 crore “proceeds of crime” as agricultural income in connivance with his wife and others and invested them in purchasing LIC policies.

Besides Singh and his 62-year-old wife Pratibha Singh, the court summoned Universal Apple Associate owner Chunni Lal Chauhan and two other co-accused, Prem Raj and Lawan Kumar Roach.

The final report also named as accused Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) agent Anand Chauhan, against whom a charge sheet was earlier filed by the agency.

All six have been charge sheeted under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Chauhan, arrested on July 9, 2016 by the ED under relevant provisions of the PMLA, was granted bail on January 2 in the case.

In the charge sheet against Virbhadra Singh, filed through Special Public Prosecutor N K Matta, the ED said, “The proceeds of crime acquired by Virbhadra Singh were projected as agricultural income with the help of Anand Chauhan, LIC agent and Chunni Lal Chauhan and were invested into insurance policies purchased in the name of Singh and his family members and a major part of it, after criss-crossing through various bank accounts found way into acquisition of immovable property.”

The “proceeds of crime generated through criminal activities” were managed by Anand Chauhan, who actively assisted him in laundering it by projecting it as untainted, the final report said.

In a separate case filed by the CBI in connection with the matter, Singh, his wife and Anand Chauhan were chargesheeted along with others.

The couple, who have not been arrested so far, and the other accused are facing trial in the CBI case.

The other accused in the CBI case are Chunni Lal Chauhan, stamp paper vendor Joginder Singh Ghalta, managing director of Tarani Infrastructure Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, and co-accused Lawan Kumar Roach, Prem Raj and Ram Prakash Bhatia.

The CBI had claimed that Virbhadra Singh had amassed assets worth around Rs 10 crore which were disproportionate to his total income during his tenure as Union minister.

The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court which, on April 6, 2016, asked the CBI not to arrest Singh and directed him to join the probe.

On November 5 last year, the apex court transferred Virbhadra Singh’s plea from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to the Delhi High Court, saying it was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, but “simply” transferring the petition “in the interest of justice and to save the institution (judiciary) from any embarrassment”.

The ED had filed a separate case based on the CBI FIR.

PTI

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