CM Amarinder, others given clean slate in Ludhiana scam
HARPREET BAJWA@ Chandigarh THE Punjab Vigilance Bureau on Saturday gave a clean chit to Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, his son Raninder Singh and son-in-law Raminder Singh and all other accused in the `1,144-crore Ludhiana City Centre scam.
The bureau filed a cancellation report in the case in the court of Ludhiana Sessions and District judge Gurbir Singh. The agency had filed an FIR in March, 2007 against Amarinder and 35 others, including the managing director of Delhi-based firm Today Homes entrusted with completing the infrastructure of the city centre project announced by Amarinder during his tenure as chief minister in 2003.
The vigilance filed a 130-page chargesheet in the court in December the same year and also listed 152 persons as witnesses in the case. Later, a 20,000-page file regarding the charges was also submitted in court. However, the case remained pending trial in the Ludhiana court as charges were not framed ag ainst any of the accused.
Sources said that few days before the Assembly election results were declared in March this year, the bureau decided to review the case following an application filed by Chetan Gupta — one of the accused in the case, who is also the director of Today Homes.
The project, first announced in 2003, was launched in 2006 and was touted as the fourth-largest project in Asia involving multiplexes, malls and leisure parks.
But when the SAD-BJP government came to power in February 2007, the then government registered a case against Amarinder and others for tweaking rules to favour Today Homes.
It was alleged that the infrastructure firm received undue benefits of at least ` 1,144 crore due to the favoritism by the CM and officials of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT).
The case was not pursued actively in the SAD-BJP’s second term (2012 to 2017). In 2015, the Enforcement Directorate initiated a probe into the project and registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to look into the trail of the scam money.