Delhi HC protects Himachal CM's wife, asks her to join ED probe

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to arrest Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's wife when she joined the ongoing probe in a money laundering case. Justice Vipin Sanghi directed petitioner Pratibha Singh to join the ED investigation on August 8 and said she will not be arrested on that day. The court asked the ED to file a status report after August 8 and listed the matter for further arguments for August 24. Pratibha Singh had filed a plea to seek restraint orders against the central agency from taking any coercive action against her, in the wake of the arrest of LIC agent Anand Chauhan, a co-accused in the money laundering case. The ED arrested Chauhan from Chandigarh on July 9 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). His was the first arrest in the case, in which the Himachal Chief Minister is an accused. Both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation have accused Chauhan of investing Virbhadra Singh's "tainted" money of Rs 5 crore in Life Insurance Corporation policies in Virbhadra Singh's name and those of his family members, including wife Pratibha Singh. The ED reportedly found that Virbhadra Singh had accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income, during his tenure as the Union Steel Minister from 2009 to 2011.