नई दिल्ली। केंद्र की मोदी सरकार ने दिल्ली हाईकोर्ट में बताया कि वीबीएस व एपीएस रिश्वत कांड में मुख्यमंत्री वीरभद्र सिंह के खिलाफ एफआईआर दर्ज करने पर्याप्त सबूत है।केंद्र सरकार की ओर से अदालत में पेश हुए एडीशनल सॉलिस्टिर जनरल संजय जैन ने कहा कि उन्होंने रिकार्ड देखा है और वीरभद्र सिंह के खिलाफ मनीलांडरिंग का ये क्लीयर केस है।लेकिन सीबीआईने हाईकोर्ट में कहा कि उन्हें इस मामले में जांच करने के लिए और समय चाहिए। यह मामला आज दिल्ली हाईकोर्ट की मुख्यन् यायाधीश जस्टिस जी रोहणी और जस्टिस जयंथ नाथ की अदालत में लगा।
इस पर दिल्ली हाईकोर्ट ने कहा कि वो सीबीआई की स्टेटस रिपोर्टको देखेंगे। हाईकोर्ट ने इंकम टैक्स को भी मामले में स्टेटस रिपोर्ट भेजने की आदेश दिए। हाईकोर्ट ने मामले की आगामी सुनवाई 20 अगस्त को निर्धारित की है।उधर,वीरभद्र सिंह ने एक चैनल से कहा कि उन्होंने कुछ भी गलत नहीं किया है।यह राजनीति से प्रेरित है।सीबीआई और अदालत उनके साथ न्याय करेगी।
कॉमन काज्ा की ओर से हाईकोर्ट में पेश हुए वकील प्रशांत भूषण ने दिल्ली हाईकोर्ट में कहा कि ये आय से अधिक आय का बिल्कुल क्लीयर केस है। लेकिन सीबीआई 18 महीनों से प्रारंभिेक जांच ही कर रही है और सारे सबूत होने के बाद एफआईआर दर्जनहीं कर रही है। अब वीरभद्र सिंह की मुश्किलें बढ़ गई है।
प्रशांत भूषण की ओर से दिल्ली हाईकोर्ट में आज दीगईअर्जी
WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONER
- The instant petition has been filed in public interest in order to bring to the notice of this Hon’ble Court a very serious case of corruption, money laundering, forgery and possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income, concerning the Former Union Steel Minister and present Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Virbhadra Singh. The petitioner has brought on record primary documents that leave no room for doubt that Respondent No. 5 needs to be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted for the above said offences.
- The instant petition has sought a thorough investigation under the supervision and monitoring of this Hon’ble Court. The petitioner had sent complaint to the CBI as far back as in January 2013 (Pg 26-33), however CBI has till date only registered a Priliminary Enquiry (PE) and not a Regular Case (RC/FIR) in gross violation of the judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari’s case (2014) 2 SCC 1 which mandates that registration of an FIR is mandatory as soon as information of a cognizable offence is obtained by the police/CBI and a PE, if conducted, needs to be concluded within 7 days and a regular case be registered. This case is a clear example as to how influential accused are allowed to get away by our investigation agencies despite the availability of water-tight evidence.
Evidence of bribery: Ispat Industries’ spreadsheets
- In November-December 2010, documents were seized in an income tax raid of a multinational steel company which showed that cash payments of about Rs. 2.28 crore were made to Respondent No. 5 between 2008 and 2010 when he was the Union Steel Minister. On December 1, 2010, the Income Tax department seized from the office of Ispat Industries a document, which appears to be the record of off-book cash transaction by their staff from 2007 onwards. The spread-sheet seized by the income tax officials purports to show the following payments made to one ‘VBS’:
(i) Rs. 50,00,000 on 28/10/2009,
(ii) Rs. 50,00,000 on 23/12/2009,
(iii) Rs. 27,74,535 on 21/4/2010, and
(iv) Rs. 1,00,00,000 on 24/8/2010.
The spreadsheet also shows that payments were made to other entities like RS 15 lakh to ‘Min of Steel APS’, and Rs 1 crore to ‘AS for PC’. Copies of the relevant pages of the said spread-sheet are at Pg 40-50. A copy of the report published in The Hindu dated 13.10.2012 on this issue is at Pg 51-53.
Disproportionate assets and money laundering
- The accounts of one Mr. Anand Chauhan came under the scrutiny of the Income Tax authorities for evasion of income tax because it was found that he had deposited roughly Rs. 5 crore in cash in his Punjab National Bank account in Shimla. It was then revealed that he deposited about Rs 5 crores in cash in his bank account and also made corresponding payments by cheque for LIC premiums totalling roughly Rs. 5 crore in favour of Respondent No. 5 and his wife and children (Pg 188-213). Thus Respondent No. 5 was the main beneficiary of the unaccounted cash deposits in the account of Mr. Chauhan.
- In order to explain the unaccounted for money, Respondent No. 5 filed revised income-tax returns for the assessment years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 showing revised agricultural income of Rs. 2,21,35,000 (a 30-fold increase), Rs. 2,80,92,500 (an 18-fold increase) and Rs. 1,55,00,000 (a 6-fold increase), adding up to an increase in agricultural income to the tune of Rs. 6.10 crore (Pg 54-70).
- Respondent No. 5, in order to justify payment of roughly Rs. 5 crore by Shri Anand Chauhan as LIC premiums for policies in his name as well as his family members, produced a MoU with Shri Chauhan dated June 15, 2008 which shows that Respondent No. 5 had entered into an agreement with him for the management of his apple orchards (Pg 104-107). However, there is another agreement of same period which he had entered into with one Shri Bishambar Dass on June 17, 2008 for the management of the same orchard (Pg 108-110), which clearly shows that the MOU with Shri Anand Chauhan had been backdated to create an explanation for his unaccounted for money.
- It is also to be noted that before the assessment years 2009-2012, in respect of which revised income tax returns were filed showing agricultural income in crores from the orchard of Respondent No. 5, in assessment years 2006-07 and 2007-08, Respondent No. 5 had shown agricultural income of only Rs 11 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, respectively (Pg 214-217, Annexures P16-17). For these years, no revised returns were filed by Respondent No. 5. This leads to the inference that the revision of income tax returns for the three years in question showing a sudden spurt in agricultural income was an afterthought and was intended to hide the true nature of the unaccounted for income.
- It is also to be noted that after the revision of incomes for the assessment years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, the income of Respondent No. 5 from agriculture again dropped back to its 2007-08 level. The affidavit for his nomination as a candidate for Himachal Pradesh Assembly constituency filed on 17.10.2012 shows that the total income of his HUF property in question is just above Rs 29 lakh, so his agricultural income is likely to be between Rs 10 to 20 lakh (Pg 218, Annexure P18).
- In response to a query regarding the agricultural income of his HUF property for the year 2009-10, Respondent No. 5 had on 20.07.2011 disclosed his agreement with Shri Bishamber Dass to justify his agricultural income of Rs. 7,35,000 (Pg 219, Annexure P19). This shows that at that time the agreement with Shri Anand Chauhan was not in existence. It is, therefore, clearly backdated and there is no way that there could have been a 30 fold increase in the agricultural income to the tune of Rs. 2,21,35,000, as Respondent no. 5 later claimed. The assessment proceedings had been completed for the year 2009-10, and yet in 2012, Respondent No. 5 filed a revised income tax return showing a 30 fold increase in his agricultural income, which is not taxable.
- Now it turns out that when the inquiry was done, the Tehsildar has stated, merely based on his register records, that stamp papers were issued in 2008 to Mr. Chauhan. However, the register records clearly show that they are made by over-writing and are a clear case of forgery. However, the Tehsildar has also stated that stamp papers purchased by Mr. Chauhan have not been attested at his office during the relevant period of 2008 (Annexure P28, supplementary affidavit). The fact that those stamp papers were not attested during that time proves that they are fabricated documents and have been obtained by making forged entries with the connivance of some stamp paper vendor as is clear from the register record.
- Income Tax Department had conducted a detailed investigation into the accounts of Mr. Chauhan and has passed an Assessment Order on 25.03.2014. Mr. Chauhan was asked by the IT Department to explain the source of the cash amounts deposited in his bank account. He said that these amounts are the sale proceeds of the orchard of Respondent No. 5. This has been comprehensively rejected by the IT Department (Annexure P29, supplementary affidavit). The IT Department has concluded:
“From the above mentioned detailed facts and discussions, it is very clearly evident that the assesse (Mr. Chauhan) is not in a position (to explain) the source of cash deposit in his bank account to the full extent. The major source of cash deposit stated by assesse is sale proceed of apple crop from Shrikhand Orchard of M/s Virbhadra Singh (HUF). It is seen that there is a manifold increase in the crop of apple during the year under assessment as compared to the assessment years prior to MOU between assesse and M/s Virbhadra Singh (HUF) i.e. assessment year 2009-10 which seems to be very abnormal and the assesse has failed to prove the same with satisfactory evidences.
Further by all the possible exercises and enquiries, I conclude that most reasonably the orchard would have produced apple yield of 191.604 MT… In these circumstances the source of Rs 1 crore deposited by the assesse in the PNB, Sanjauli between 01.05.2010 to 28.05.2010 remained unexplained.
In view of the facts and circumstances as discussed above, it is clear that the agriculture production and income earned by the assesse for M/s Virbhadra Singh (HUF) from the alleged sale of apples of Shrikhand Orchard to M/s Universal Apple Associates, Parwanoo was not fully verifiable…
The receipt of alleged sale of apple crop was invested by the assesse in the name of the members of the M/s Virbhadra Singh (HUF) in LIC policies for the amount of Rs 1.30 crores. M/s Virbhadra Singh (HUF) has also accepted the facts of amount invested in LIC policies. Hence, M/s Virbhadra Singh (HUF) is the ultimate beneficiary of the cash deposits in the account of the assesse. As the cash deposists of Rs 1 crore deposited in the bank account of the assesse from 01.05.2010 to 28.05.2010 remained un-explained the same are added to the deposit to the income of the assesse on protective basis as un-explained cash credits under section 68 of the Income Tax Act 1961.”
- Despite the availability of such clear-cut evidence of corruption, money laundering, disproportionate assets and criminal misconduct, the CBI and the Income Tax department have not taken any effective measures, because Respondent No. 5 is an influential person and is currently the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. The complaint filed by the counsel of the Petitioner Society is more than 18 months old, and yet the CBI has not even registered a FIR in the matter. The inaction of the government and its investigating agencies in the face of clinching documentary evidence of corruption in high places shows a clear intent to protect Respondent No. 5 who is a high profile politician. This protection militates against the concept of the ‘Rule of Law’, which has been enshrined as a basic feature of the Constitution under Article 21 in several judgments of this Hon’ble Court, including Vineet Narain (1998) 1 SCC 226.
- Therefore, the Petitioner requests this Hon’ble Court to direct a thorough investigation by the CBI and the Income Tax Department under the monitoring and supervision of this Hon’ble Court into the charges of money laundering, corruption, disproportionate assets, criminal misconduct etc. against Respondent No. 5 as brought out in the present writ petition and immediate registration of an FIR as mandated by the law laid down by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari case (2014) 2 SCC 1.
Evidence of bribery: M/s Venture Energy case
- The Government of Himachal Pradesh had allotted a hydel power project at Sai Kothi to M/s Venture Energy & Technology Pvt. Ltd. on 14.06.2002. The said company defaulted in the execution of the project and the state government granted several extensions to the company. After Respondent No. 5 became the Chief Minister, his government granted it a further extension of 10 months. A copy of the proposal in this regard moved by Principal Secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh dated 02.09.2013 for the consideration of the Council of Ministers is at Pg 128-134 (Annexure P20) which was moved specifically on the directions of Respondent No. 4 (Pg 134). The said proposal was approved on 04.09.2013.
- It turns out that the said decision was a result of quid pro quo and was made on extraneous considerations. In the affidavit filed by Respondent No. 5 on 17.10.2012 for contesting the election to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, there is no reference to any loan received by Respondent no. 5 or his wife from M/s Venture Energy or any of its promoters. However, when Mrs. Pratibha Singh, wife of Respondent no. 5, contested the subsequent by-election to Lok Sabha, she disclosed in her affidavit dated 30.05.2013 that one Mr. Vakamulla Chandersekhar had given an unsecured loan of Rs 1.50 crore to her and Rs. 2.40 crore to Respondent No. 5. A copy of the relevant pages of the said affidavit is at Pg 145-146 (Annexure P21). Mr. Chandersekhar is the director of M/s Venture Energy. The relevant webpage from the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is at Pg 153 (Annexure P22). It is thus clear that unsecured “loans” amounting to Rs. 3.90 crore were received by Respondent No. 5 and his wife (after Respondent No. 5 became the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh) from the director and promoter of M/s Venture Energy, the company that he had favoured by granting an undue extension despite repeated defaults.
- Secondly, Mr. Vakamulla Chandersekhar gave an unsecured loan of Rs. 4,999,000.00 to M/s Maple Destinations & Dreambuild Pvt Ltd. M/s Maple Destinations and Dreambuild Pvt Ltd also got an unsecured loan of Rs 1.50 crore from M/s Tarini Sugar & Distilleries. This is evident from the balance sheet of M/s Maple Destinations and Dreambuild Pvt Ltd as on 31.03.2013 which is at Pg 156-159 (Annexure P23). M/s Maple Destinations and Dreamland Pvt Ltd is fully owned by Mr. Vikramaditya Singh and Ms. Aprajita Kumari, son and daughter of Respondent No. 5, respectively. The balance sheet of M/s Maple Destinations and Dreambuild Pvt Ltd which has been annexed above clearly states the same. It is evident from the auditor’s report of M/s Tarini Sugar & Distilleries that these loans are interest-free and no period of repayment has been fixed (Pg 161, Annexure P24). 17.53% shares of M/s Tarini Sugar & Distilleries are held by Mr. Vakamulla Chandrasekhar and 64.57% shares are held by Tarini International Ltd. This has been stated in the balance sheet of M/s Tarini Sugar & Distilleries of whose relevant page is at Pg 166 (Annexure P25). Mr. Vakamulla Chandrasekhar is the managing director of Tarini International Ltd. Thus, in effect the firm favoured by Respondent No. 5 transferred a sum of Rs 1.99 crore to the company owned by his children.
- Thirdly, M/s Tarini Infrastructures Ltd has allotted a total of 9,80,000 equity shares of Rs. 10 each to the family members of Respondent No. 5. While Mrs. Pratibha Singh (wife), and Ms. Aparjita Kumari (daughter) have received 3,40,000 shares each, 3,00,000 shares have been allotted to Mr. Vikramaditya Singh (son). Mr. Amit Pal Singh, OSD to Respondent No. 5, has also got 10,000 equity shares in the said company. A copy of the list of shareholders as on 29.09.2012 filed by M/s Tarini Infrastructures before the Registrar of Companies is at Pg 167 (Annexure P26).
- Regarding the above, the petitioner has filed application C.M. No 395/2014 seeking a thorough court-monitored CBI investigation, on which this Hon’ble Court was pleased to ask the CBI to file its response. CBI has filed a reply affidavit to the above C.M. application stating that CBI would require an order from this Hon’ble Court to investigate the case since it comes under State Government jurisdiction (para 6 of CBI affidavit). Therefore, petitioner requests this Hon’ble Court to direct the CBI to investigate these series of transactions also since they are related to the various offences and corruption committed by Respondent No. 5 which CBI is already investigating, and also because State Police is under the direct supervision of Respondent No. 5 himself (since he is the sitting Chief Minister), and hence CBI is the only external investigation authority. This would also be consistent with the Constitution Bench decision of the Supreme Court in State of W.B. case (2010) 3 SCC 571 on the power and duty of the High Courts in ordering CBI investigations regarding matters falling under State jurisdiction.
Dated: 06.08.2014 Prashant Bhushan
(Counsel for the Petitioner)