A Delhi High Court judge on Thursday recused herself from hearing a petition submitted by former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife in an illegal assets case, PTI reported. The former chief minister and his wife Pratibha Singh’s plea had moved the court on Wednesday challenging a trial court order to frame charges against them.
Justice Mukta Gupta said the matter will be listed before another judge on Friday.
On December 10, the trial court had ordered the framing of charges against Singh, his wife and seven others in the case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The trial court is yet to formally frame the charges against Singh and others. The matter is listed for January 29.
The 82-year-old Congress leader has claimed that the Himachal Pradesh government’s approval was needed to initiate an investigation into his alleged possession of disproportionate assets under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The trial court had said that Singh intended to cause a loss to the exchequer by misrepresenting unaccounted money as proceeds of apple sales, and amassing assets of over Rs 10 crore disproportionate to his income between 2009 and 2011 when he was a Union minister. The court had charged Pratibha Singh and seven others with abetting the offences.
The other seven accused are LIC agent Anand Chauhan, Chunni Lal Chauhan, Joginder Singh Ghalta, Prem Raj, Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, Lawan Kumar Roach and Ram Prakash Bhatia.
The court said Virbhadra Singh and Anand Chauhan “fraudulently and dishonestly” signed a memorandum of understanding by antedating it to June 15, 2008, for which the Central Bureau of Investigation had found evidence. The document showed unaccounted money as sale proceeds of apples, the court had said.