The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case against Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha to probe allegations that the former union steel minister amassed disproportionate assets worth Rs 6.03 crore during his stint in 2009-12.
It also carried out searches on premises at 13 locations in Himachal Pradesh and New Delhi — including Singh’s official and private residences (Holy Lodge in Shimla and Jantar Mantar in central Delhi), ancestral palace (‘Padam Palace’ at Rampur Bushahr), and Mehrauli-based farmhouse — of the other accused named in the FIR and unnamed suspects.
The raids surprised Singh, coming on the day his daughter was getting married. An 18-member CBI team arrived at his Shimla residence within minutes of the family leaving for a temple at 7.30am to solemnise the marriage of his second daughter.
The alleged unaccounted income under CBI’s scanner was shown as proceeds from agriculture and used to buy insurance policies in the name of his family members. Agricultural income is exempted from income tax. CBI’s First Information Report (FIR) named, apart from Singh and his wife, two private persons — insurance agent Anand Chauhan and businessman brother Chunni Chauhan — and “unknown others”. It did not name two other close relatives who earlier figured in its preliminary enquiry (PE) registered in June.
“During searches, incriminating documents, property papers, investments, hard disks, pen drives, etc, have been recovered. CBI will soon record the statements of the FIR-named and accused, including Singh,” said a CBI source.
Questioning the searches, Congress leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said, “It is very unfortunate that the CBI is conducting raids on the CM’s house. How can the CBI conduct raids in a case that is sub-judice?”