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Steel Minister booked for corruption

IANS  Shimla, August 04, 2009
First Published: 14:46 IST(4/8/2009) | Last Updated: 02:08 IST(5/8/2009)

Union Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh have been booked for corruption by police in Himachal Pradesh, officials said Tuesday. The complaint against them was on the basis of a CD released in May 2008.

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"Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh were booked on Monday night by the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau under relevant sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code)," Inspector General of Police (Vigilance) S.R. Mardi told IANS.

Mardi said they were booked on the basis of an audio CD released by Virbhadra Singh's political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia last year. In the CD, Virbhadra Singh was heard referring to some monetary transactions on phone with former IAS officer Mahinder Lal, who is dead. The CD also contained recordings of his wife, a former MP from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh.

The state is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in the opposition at the centre.

Former Congress minister Mankotia, who had demanded the registration of the case against Virbhadra Singh and others, had released the CD before the Hamirpur parliamentary by-election in May 2008.

The police also sent the CD and their voice samples for voice analysis at the Chandigarh-based Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS to contact him, Virbhadra Singh was unavailable for comment.

A five-time former chief minister, Virbhadra Singh belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Bushehr state. He is popularly known as "Raja Saab".

During the parliamentary elections this year, the Congress won one of the four seats in Himachal Pradesh, with Virbhadra Singh winning in Mandi by a margin of 13,000 votes.


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