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Court acquits Virbhadra of corruption, CD conspiracy

Shimla: In a major relief to Himachal Chief Minister-designate Virbhadra Singh, a court here today acquitted him of charges of corruption and conspiracy in the much-publicised audio CD case, a day before his swearing in for the office for a record sixth time.

"No case is made out as not even a single witness supported the prosecution evidence," Special Judge B L Soni said pronouncing the judgement in an open court absolving the Congress leader in a matter relating to his tenure as CM in 1989 after a trial that started in September this year.

AFP

The 78-year-old Singh, who had gone to Delhi to consult AICC president Sonia Gandhi and other leaders in connection with formation of his ministry, rushed to the court after landing at Annandale helipad.

He was present in the jam-packed court when the judgement was delivered.

The case related to an audio CD that allegedly contained a conversation of Singh and his wife with IAS officer Mohinder Lal and some industrialists regarding monetary transactions for them to invest in the state.

Charges of conspiracy and corruption were framed by the court on June 25, this year, following which Singh had resigned as Union Steel Minister.

The court had framed charges against Singh and his wife under Section 120 B (conspiracy) of IPC and Sections 7, 11 and 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), dealing with bribery and criminal misconduct.

The Special Judge started regular trial in the case from September this year and the last hearing was held on December 22.

Singh, who is credited for Congress' win in Himachal Pradesh, had denied any wrongdoing and maintained that he was being framed because of political vendetta.

The case against Singh goes back to 1989 when he was Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Singh and his wife were booked on August 3, 2009, on the basis of the CD released by his arch rival in Congress and former minister Vijay Singh Mankotia in May 2007.

The prosecution filed the case in the court of special judge in October 2010.

Rubbishing the allegations, Singh had said that the case was "totally fabricated" by the then BJP government in the state which is "after my blood".

"This is a concocted, totally fabricated case. The CD is not authenticated. They have not compared my voice. I don't care for my office at all. I don't want to embarrass my party and my Prime Minister," he had told reporters in Shimla after the charges were framed against him.

The CD pertaining to the case against Singh was also played in the court during the hearing.

During the trial two key witnesses — Kapil Mohan of Mohan Meakin Breweries and P C Jain, Vice President of Ambuja Cements Ltd, had retracted from the statement recorded by the police saying that they did not give any such statement.

PTI