CM Amarinder, others given clean slate in Lud­hi­ana scam

Sunday Express - - INDIA -

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.

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