March 16, 2016

Delhi High Court refused to grant stay on Virbhadra Singh's money laundering case

Vijyender Sharma

SHIMLA----The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to grant interim stay on the money laundering proceedings initiated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and others.

"Stay on proceedings? I cannot do it like this today. No urgency is required. Let us be practical. There cannot be a blanket order like this," the judge said.

Justice Pratibha Rani issued a notice to the ED seeking its response before May 31 on SinghVirbhadra's plea seeking stay on the proceedings and quashing of the money laundering case against him.

During the hearing, senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for Singh, told the bench that his client has been summoned by ED for tomorrow and there is an apprehension that he may be arrested.

"The urgency is that I (Virbhadra) have been summoned by ED for tomorrow. In the present political scenario, there is an apprehension that I may be arrested. Virbhadra Singh is not only the Chief Minister but also Finance Minister of Himachal Pradesh. The budget session is going on in the state assembly."

"Kindly exempt me for tomorrow. There should not be any coercive action against me," Nandrajog said.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain told the bench that ED has not sought personal appearance of Virbhadra and he can be represented through his authorised representative tomorrow. "Personal appearance is not needed tomorrow," the ASG said.

To this, the bench said: "I think that it puts an end to this interim prayer (seeking exemption from personal appearance before ED tomorrow). Once ASG shows that Virbhadra is not required then why are you worrying about tomorrow".

The ED registered a money laundering case against Singh and others under provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2015 on the basis of a complaint the CBI registered. 

The CBI had lodged a separate disproportionate assets (DA) case against Singh and others alleging that Singh and his family members had amassed wealth of Rs 6.1 crore between 2009-11, disproportionate to his known sources of income, while serving as the Union Minister of Steel.

Earlier, the agency had moved the high court seeking vacation of the Himachal Pradesh High Court's interim order restraining the agency from arresting, interrogating or filing a charge sheet against Singh, who has been issued notice on the same

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