The Himachal Pradesh high court on Friday issued a notice to chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his parliamentarian wife, Pratibha Singh, to ask for their replies in a matter related to the delay in the government's challenging their acquittal in the 2009 compact-disc case.
Hearing a petition by former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer SM Katwal, justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary passed the orders on his application for condoning the delay in filing an appeal against the orders of the special judge (forests), Shimla, BL Soni, to acquit the CM and the Mandi MP in the CD case.
Katwal had challenged the special judge orders dated December 24, 2012, in a corruption case lodged on the basis of a conversation recorded on the CD in the alleged voices of Virbhadra, Pratibha, and now-dead IAS officer Mohinder Lal. The chat was about obtaining financial benefits from two companies.
As the period of limitation for filing appeal against the orders has expired, the court is first hearing the application for condoning the delay. It has asked the respondents to file replies by April 17.
Katwal in his petition has submitted that the state government has not filed appeal against the orders because it is now led by accused Virbhadra Singh himself.
Ex-IAS claims to be victim
Former IAS officer Katwal claimed to be "victim" and de-facto complainant in the case on the ground that he had requested the high court for directions for CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry into the case.
Claiming self to be whistleblower, Katwal pleaded that it was he who had initiated the legal proceedings leading to the registration of the criminal case on August 3, 2009. Virbhadra and wife were acquitted a day before he was sworn in as chief minister for a record sixth time on December 25, 2012.
Pratibha Singh was, later, elected to the lower House of Parliament from Mandi in June last year in a byelection after Virbhadra vacated that seat.
In 2011, Virbhadra had stepped down as union minister after charges were framed in the special court in the CD case.