The Punjab Vigilance Bureau registered a second corruption case against former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his son Raninder Singh on Friday, for amassing assets and wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income. Capt Singh has called the charges completely baseless.
The CM’s former media adviser Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, his family friend and Delhi businessman Chetan Gupta, and three senior government functionaries have also been indicted.
Soon after the FIR was registered, a team from the bureau reached Capt Singh’s residence, the Moti Bagh Palace in Patiala, and formally asked him and his son to appear before the bureau on July 6. “We have decided not to arrest Capt Singh and his son at this stage,” said a Vigilance officer.
The first corruption case against father and son was filed in March 2007 in connection with the the multi-crore Ludhiana City Centre scam.
The FIR alleges that, during the five years when Capt Amarinder Singh was chief minister, the money deposited in his and his son’s bank accounts exceeded their declared income by Rs 4.5 crore. It charges that father and son bought expensive properties, including benami ones, in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Punjab. It claims that the two, along with some senior officials, accepted bribes from businessmen for helping them set up mega projects, the money being paid in India and abroad. It records their financial transactions in detail, naming specific companies and businessmen they allegedly connived with.
Capt Singh claimed the case had been filed at the behest of present chief minister Prakash Singh Badal. “I would love to have all those properties named by Vigilance Bureau in the FIR and the crores shown in different bank accounts,” he said sarcastically. He alleged that some of his Congress party colleagues were also pressuring Punjab government to slap fake cases against him.
“This government ought to know that Nehra Commission and a two judge bench had exonerated me and my son in the earlier scam we were charged in,” he recalled. “This fresh case will also fall flat.”
Ironically, while Capt Singh was chief minister, a disproportionate assets case had been filed against the Badal family in 2003.
(With inputs from Gurpreet Singh Nibber in Patiala)