New Delhi, January 12: The Delhi High court giving a major setback to former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh on Thursday upheld the validity of a money laundering law provision.
Notably, a bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice IS Mehta of Delhi High court rejected 10 pleas including those by former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh and upheld section 5(1) second provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the provision that empowered the ED to attach the properties bought from the proceeds of the crime.
The pleas, which included Virbhadra Singh's daughter Aprajita, sand mining baron J Sekar Reddy and his business associates, had challenged its constitutional validity. Earlier, in the month of December last year, Patiala House Court of Delhi granted exemption from personal appearance to Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh till the conclusion of arguments in a disproportionate assets case lodged by the CBI.
The CBI registered the case on 23.09.2015 against then Union Minister; his wife; two private persons and unknown others on the allegations of possession of Disproportionate Assets. Virbhadra Singh had invested the money in LIC policies in his name, that of his wife and other family members. Earlier, Delhi High Court also allowed the CBI to file the charge sheet by rejecting the objections raised by Virbhadra and the Himachal government.
Singh was first asked to appear before the ED on April 13 but he did not present himself before the agency, prompting the Investigating Officer to re-issue summons for April 20. His appearance before the ED came even as the agency refused to give any assurance in the Delhi High Court that it will not arrest Singh when he appears before it.
ED also attached Virbhadra’s farmhouse with a market value of Rs 27 crore. ED also issued a provisional order attaching the farmhouse located in south Delhi's Mehrauli area under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). After attaching the farmhouse, the agency said the book value of the asset is Rs 6.61 crore but its market value is "worth Rs 27 crore and is in the name of "Maple Destinations & Dreambuild".
Interestingly, Himachal’s CM Virbhadra Singh has maintained the rejection of all the allegations made upon him and termed as ‘political vendetta’.