Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former Punjab cabinet minister Sucha Singh Langah was sentenced to three years in jail in a Rs 13-crore disproportionate assets case and slapped Rs 1 crore fine by a court here on Wednesday. He was, however, released on bail after he deposited the Rs 1 crore fine in cash.
Additional district and sessions judge Dilbagh Singh Johal also awarded three years’ sentence to Amrik Singh Mohali, another SAD leader, while acquitting eight others in the case registered 13 years ago by the Punjab vigilance bureau. The court imposed Rs 1 lakh fine on Amrik, who too walked out on bail after depositing the fine.
That was not all.
In an additional jolt to Langah, who was public works minister in the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government (1997-2002), the court attached his 16 prime properties with the government. “The convict Sucha Singh Langah as a public servant being cabinet minister of Punjab accumulated property in his own name and in the names of his wife, minor sons and daughters as well as Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College Society worth Rs 80 lakh, disproportionate to his known source of income, which he has failed to explain and he being a public servant committed criminal misconduct,” the ruling read.
The court also held that Langah had forged documents in the name of GGSK Society “for the purpose of cheating” and “to acquire benami property”. It added that documents were forged by Amrik too for cheating and to acquire benami property for Langah.
Meanwhile, the court acquitted eight persons, including Sudarashan Lal Kaura, Pardeep Bhateja, Vinod Kumar Garg, Jasvir Singh, Bikramjit Singh, Subhash Chander Jain, Sampuran Singh and Sher Singh.
It was during the Congress government (2002-07) that the state vigilance bureau had registered the FIR against 11 persons, including Langah, on May 16, 2002 under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. One of the accused, Subhash Chander, died in 2013.
The court considered the investigation of the vigilance team, which found that while working as minister Langah had accepted illegal gratification other than the legal remuneration as a motive or reward from other persons. During the trial, the court examined 35 witnesses, including cops and officials of other departments.
Shield from media, cash fine
After the conviction, when Langah was leaving the court premises around 3.45pm, a large number of Akali supporters gathered around him to shield him from media glare. The police and other senior officials were sidelined too in the process.
As for the fine, the entire Rs 1 crore was brought in cash; the court directed that it be deposited in bank and a receipt be produced. Sources said three local party leaders pooled in the money. Co-convict Amrik left before Langah after submitting his fine of Rs 1 lakh.
Know the case
The case against Sucha Singh Langah was registered over accumulating assets worth Rs 13 crore when he was a minister in the 1997-2002 SAD-BJP government. The VB had stated that Langah, who belongs to Gurdaspur district, had purchased 35 acres in five villages in his home district in the name of members of his family. While the official price of the land was quoted as Rs 1 crore, the market price was five times more.
The court, besides the three-year-jail, has ordered to confiscate properties acquired by Sucha Singh Langah in his name and in the name of his wife and children that include 10 plots in Gurdaspur, his house in Sector 44, Chandigarh, and two industrial plots and one plot of Punjabi Cooperative Housing Building Society Limited in Mohali (SAS Nagar).
May 16, 2002: VB registers FIR against 11 persons, including Langah
May 18: Accused Amrik Singh Mohali arrested
July 25: Sucha Singh Langah arrested too
Sept 17, Nov 29: VB files chargesheet, court farmes charges
Apr 26, 2004: Court re-frames the charges against all accused
Dec 5, 2012: VB files supplementary report, observing that Langah had explained his assets
Jan 2, 2013: One of the accused, Subhash Chander, dies
Feb 11, 2015: Court convicts Langah, Amrik, acquits others