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SC notice to Virbhadra Singh in disproportionate assets case

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, asking why his plea against a CBI investigation into a disproportionate assets case should not be transferred from the state high court.

The apex court bench of Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit issued notice on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea, challenging the Himachal Pradesh High Court order restraining it from investigating the chief minister and his wife or taking them in custody for interrogation.

The high court on October 1 had stayed the arrest of Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh in the Rs.6 crore assets case as the CBI sought their custodial interrogation.

Virbhadra Singh moved the high court following CBI raids at his residences in Delhi and Shimla on September 26 which he contended were mala fide and out of political vendetta.

A notice, returnable on November 5, has also been issued to Singh’s wife Pratibha Singh.

Besides the notice on CBI plea seeking the transfer of case outside Himachal, the notice has also been issued on the plea challenging the October 1 order.

Assailing the high court order, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the judge who passed the October 1 order had on two earlier occasions recused himself from hearing the matter involving Singh, saying that the latter was his client when he was a practising advocate.

Rohatgi referred to newspaper reports to buttress his point, inviting jibes from senior counsels Kapil Sibal and P.Chidambaram for reading media reports as an extension of court orders.

Appearing for Virbhadra Singh, Sibal said that instances being referred to by the Attorney General were related to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and had nothing to do with the matter before the apex court.

Besides objecting to the said judge hearing and passing the October 1 order, Rohatgi said that the investigating agency was seeking the transfer of the case as it related to an incumbent chief minister and the same matter was being heard and monitored by the Delhi High Court.

Rohatgi said that while the Delhi High Court asked the CBI to take the matter to its logical conclusion, but due to the order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court the investigating agency could not proceed with its investigation.

“I can’t interrogate. I can’t move forward in Rs.6 crore of unaccounted wealth that relates to the period when Virbhadra Singh was a union minister in the then UPA government,” he said.

While protecting Singh and his wife from any interrogation, the Himachal Pradesh High Court by its October 1 order said, “…by way of abundant precaution, it’s made clear that the petitioners shall not be arrested.”

“It’s also made clear that as and when the dossier is complete, it shall be open for the CBI to approach this court for permission to interrogate the petitioners in accordance with law,” the high court further said.

The case was registered on September 23 under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the chief minister, his wife Pratibha Singh, LIC agent Anand Chauhan and an associate, Chunni Lal.

The FIR was the outcome of a preliminary inquiry which revealed that Singh, while serving as a union minister during 2009-2012, allegedly accumulated assets worth Rs.6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members which were found to be disproportionate to his known sources of income.

 

(IANS)

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Concerned Over The Rise of Drug Usage In The State: Himachal Governor

A three-day horse trade-cum-exhibition was organised before the beginning of the Lavi Fair.

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There are countless mothers who have been constantly tormented by drug-dependent adolescent children. Pixabay

Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat on Sunday expressed concern over the rise in drug addiction, particularly among the youth in the state, and called for concerted efforts to tackle the menace.

“Effective steps have been taken by the government and police administration, but we all need to work together in this direction,” he said at the inauguration of the centuries-old Lavi Fair in Rampur town, which was once a centre of barter trade with Tibet.

He called upon the people to promote natural farming. The state government has made a provision of Rs 25 crore to promote natural or organic farming to produce chemical-free food.

The 400-year-old Lavi Fair has undergone a sea change with the rural folk’s changing lifestyles and aspirations, resulting in a greater sale of gadgets and automobiles than traditional items such as farm implements, livestock and dry fruits.

Himachal
‘The traders from across the border have stopped coming’ Pixabay

The fair dates back to the time when Raja Kehari Singh of Rampur Bushahr state signed a treaty to promote trade with Tibet.

Rampur, 120 kilometres from state capital Shimla, was once a major trade centre as it is located on the old silk route connecting Afghanistan, Tibet and Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir.

“People have stopped buying farm implements, horses and sheep. Now, they prefer to shop luxury goods like television sets and automobiles,” trader Ishwar Goyal told IANS.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur will preside over the concluding session of the fair on November 14.

Another trader Deepak Negi said Rampur was a centre of trade before the 1962 India-China war.

The traders from Tibet used to bring raw wool, butter, herbs and leather products and bartered them for wheat, rice, farm implements and livestock.

himachal
Rampur, 120 kilometres from state capital Shimla, was once a major trade centre as it is located on the old silk route connecting Afghanistan. Pixabay

“Now, the traders from across the border have stopped coming. Indian multinational companies come here to sell their products. The fair has largely lost its relevance,” he added.

A three-day horse trade-cum-exhibition was organised before the beginning of the Lavi Fair. The main attraction during the exhibition were the Chamurthi horses – an endangered species known as the ‘Ship Of the Cold Desert’. Being a surefooted animal, it is mainly used for transporting goods in the Himalayas.

Also Read: Quitting Junk Food May Cause You to Suffer Withdrawal Symptoms Similar to Drug Addition

The Chamurthi horse traces its origin to the Tibet region. In India, it’s bred in the villages of Himachal Pradesh bordering China.

The fair sees several folk artistes from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh perform. (IANS)