Himachal judge recuses himself from Virbhadra case

It is learnt that Justice Sharma recused himself from hearing the case because Virbhadra Singh, five-time former chief minister, was his client when he was an advocate.

Shimla: Union Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh`s petition seeking transfer of his alleged corruption case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could not make any headway on Thursday as a judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court recused himself from hearing the case.

The petition will now be placed on Friday before another division bench of Chief Justice Kurian Joseph.

Justice Joseph announced in the court that Justice Rajeev Sharma, another member of the division bench, refused to hear the case and it would be placed in the new division bench.
It is learnt that Justice Sharma recused himself from hearing the case because Virbhadra Singh, five-time former chief minister, was his client when he was an advocate.

Virbhadra Singh moved the high court Tuesday for transfer of his alleged corruption case to the CBI. He also sought that the CD case against Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Director General of Police (DGP) DS Manhas also be investigated.

In the petition, Singh said that after Dhumal became chief minister in December 2007, the government registered a case against him and his wife Aug 3, 2008, under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of an audio CD released by his political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia in 2007.

Police say that in the CD, Virbhadra Singh was heard allegedly referring to some monetary transactions during his phone conversation with Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead. It also allegedly contained the voices of his wife and some industrialists.

The high court had Sep 3 turned down Virbhadra Singh`s petition to transfer the case to the CBI.

The court ruled that the investigation could not be transferred to the CBI under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Virbhadra Singh alleged that when the two audio CDs surfaced -- both allegedly containing voices of Dhumal and one containing the voice of Manhas in January this year -- the government adopted different yardsticks of their investigation.

In the alleged conversation recorded in one of the CDs, Manhas (then the vigilance chief) was heard asking Dhumal about tapping the phones of Virbhadra Singh and his wife. At this Dhumal replied: "Do it."

IANS

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