Virbhadra voice CD in a graft case played in court

Last Updated: Thu, May 31, 2012 12:06 hrs

Shimla: An audio cassette purportedly containing Union minister and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh's voice while referring to some monetary transactions from industrialists was played as part of evidence in a trial court here Thursday.

Accepting the argument, Special Judge B.L. Soni asked the prosecution to play the cassette.

In the last hearing of the case May 22 -- relating to registration of a criminal case against Virbhadra Singh and his wife and former MP Pratibha Singh -- under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the court had asked the prosecution to hand over the copy of the cassette to the accused.

Special Public Prosecutor Jiwan Lal Sharma told IANS that evidence has been 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.

After hearing prosecution's arguments, the court listed the matter for next hearing June 6.

The cassette allegedly contained Virbhadra Singh's telephonic conversation with Indian Administrative Service officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead.

It also contained voices of Virbhadra's wife and some industrialists, who have been identified by the police, proposing to invest in the state.

Sharma said the cassette contained nine talks recorded at different intervals.

Virbhadra Singh, wife Pratibha Singh, Lal and Virbhadra's private secretary K.N. Sharma, who too is now dead, featured in the talks.

Virbhadra was the chief minister when the recording of the cassette was made. Later, the cassette was converted into a compact disc (CD) for circulation among the media.

Defence counsel has been disputing the authenticity and veracity of the CD and its contents.

According to the police, the couple was booked on the basis of an audio CD released by Virbhadra Singh's political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia in 2007.

The former chief minister faces charges of misusing his official position and criminal misconduct in 1989.

The police had sent the CD and the voice samples of Virbhadra Singh and his wife for analysis at the Chandigarh-based Central Forensic Science Laboratory. The laboratory said the voices of Virbhadra and his wife matched with that in the CD.

The prosecution filed the charge sheet against the couple in the court in October 2010.

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