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Punjab

Captain, son discharged in Ludhiana City Centre case

November 28, 2019 04:55 AM

COURTESY HT NOV 28
Aneesha Sareen Kumar

aneesha.sareen@htlive.com

LUDHIANA : A court here on Wednesday discharged Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder, his son Raninder Singh and 29 other accused in the Ludhiana City Centre case.


The court of district and sessions judge Gurbir Singh, while accepting the closure report in the case that was filed by the state vigilance bureau more than two years ago, said no case of corruption had been made out against any of the accused.

The case pertained to an infrastructure project conceived during Amarinder’s previous stint as the chief minister in 2005-06. According to the vigilance bureau, Amarinder and 35 others caused the state exchequer a loss to the tune of ₹1,144 crore by favouring a private builder in the City Centre project that was launched in 2006.

“There isn’t an iota of evidence against any accused. No evidence of bribe or forgery. So, the closure report is accepted and all discharged,” said the judge during the 45-minute hearing in a jam-packed courtroom where Amarinder was also present. The judge also said the statements of witnesses following reinvestigation done in the case by vigilance also do not corroborate the allegations in the FIR.


“The charges against us have been rejected,” Amarinder Singh told reporters outside the court, adding he had known all along that it was a false case. “The truth has prevailed and our stand against the politically motivated charges has been fully vindicated,” he added. Initially, there were 36 accused in the case. Five died during the course of trial.

In its inquiry, the vigilance bureau alleged that Amarinder, in connivance with officials of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) and others, favoured a private company, M/S Today Homes, and awarded it the contract by tampering with the bids.

It was also alleged that the Congress party wanted funding of at least ₹100 crore from this project for the 2007 polls and that the accused received kickbacks from the owners of M/S Today Homes for awarding it the contract.


The vigilance probe added that LIT officials allegedly tampered with the bids on the night of May 10-11, 2005, at Hotel Park Plaza, Ludhiana, where Today Homes representatives were also present. This was five days before bids were officially opened on May 17, 2005.

In 2017, the investigating agency took a U-turn in the case in the closure report, saying that all the allegations were fictitious. Over the past two years, the hearing on the closure report has been marred by petitions that have questioned the validity of the report, and sought its dismissal.

Prominent among those who challenged the closure report were former Punjab director general of police Sumedh Singh Saini; former vigilance senior superintendent of police Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu; Atam Nagar legislator Simarjeet Singh Bains and the architect for the city centre, SK Dey

 
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