Himachal Congress president Virbhadra Singh's Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) agent-cum-business partner Anand Chauhan has admitted before the income tax (IT) department that he had been investing money of the former chief minister in LIC policies.
Responding in Hindi to a nine-point questionnaire of the IT department on December 13, 2011, Chauhan had stated that as per the agreement, between Singh and Chauhan, he used to invest the money earned from the sale of apples from the Congress leader's orchard in LIC policies.
As reported in HT ('Ispat payoff and mega insurance linked to VBS?', October 23) and the documents show that some of the payments made to 'VBS' between October 2009 to August 2010 coincide with huge deposits in the bank account of Chauhan, when Singh was then union minister for steel.
A document seized during an income-tax department search at the offices of Ispat Industries in Delhi on November 30, 2010, suggests that four payments totalling Rs 2.27 crore were allegedly made between October 2009 and August 2010 to Singh.
Chauhan purchased single-premium LIC policies running into crores in the name of Singh and members of his family and the revised the income-tax returns for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 of the Congress leader show a quantum jump in his agricultural income.It is in this backdrop that questions are being raised over the agreement Singh had signed with Chauhan for the management of his apple orchard.
Singh and Chauhan on June 15, 2008, signed a memorandum of understanding (HT has the copy) for the management of "Shrikhand Orchard" of Singh in Rampur Bushahr having about 3,200 apple trees.
Chauhan was to get 2% of the net proceed/income earned from the orchard, as per the agreement.
One of the clauses of this agreement was that Chauhan will "invest the proceeds so obtained from the sale of apples in government securities, mutual funds, in schemes of LIC or to invest the money in the products of scheduled banks…."
The nine-point agreement duly drafted on the Himachal Government judicial paper specifically states: "This MoU is solely for maintaining the orchard and marketing the apple crop and investing the proceeds as per the terms and conditions of this MoU."
But there is yet another agreement which the Congress stalwart had also signed with one Bishamber Dass of Rampur on June 17, 2008 (the MoU between Chauhan and Singh was signed on June 15, 2008), for the management of "Shrikhand Orchard". As per this agreement, Singh sold the apple crop through Bishamber Dass in 2008-09 for a mere Rs 10.5 lakh.
Now the issue being debated in this hill state is under what compelling circumstances did the Congress leader have to sign a backdated agreement?
"The backdated agreement Virbhadra Singh had signed is an act of forgery. This is a case of bribery as well as forgery by backdated agreement," Arun Jaitley, the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said in a news conference here on Tuesday.