The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday disposed of a petition filed by Capt Amarinder Singh, deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, in the Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) case, with a direction to the Punjab police to probe the matter independently of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha committee report.
The direction came from the bench of justice Ajay Tewari on Amarinder’s petition, filed in 2009, in which he had sought quashing of the FIR and the challan filed against him by the Vigilance Bureau (VB). Though the detailed order in the case is awaited, the HC has directed the police to investigate the case further.
Earlier, the Punjab police had submitted before the HC that it would segregate the probe and investigate independently of the Vidhan Sabha panel report, following Amarinder’s objections that the FIR could not be registered on the report without a separate probe by the VB, the former chief minister’s lawyer, APS Deol, told Hindustan Times.
The VB had registered the case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including those pertaining to forgery and cheating, and the Prevention of Corruption Act following a report of the Vidhan Sabha committee that had indicted several persons, including Amarinder, for having caused a loss of about Rs 130 crore to the state exchequer. The FIR was registered in SAS Nagar on September 11, 2008. On the completion of the investigation, the challan was presented in the SAS Nagar trial court on February 10, 2009.
On the Captain’s petition, the HC had in 2012 ordered the transfer of hearing in the case from the court of additional sessions judge Rajinder Aggarwal in the SAS Nagar court to the seniormost judge in the same court.
The matter pertains to land excluded from the AIT scheme, which was later taken by a builder.
Besides Amarinder, former local bodies minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, former AIT chairman Jugal Kishore Sharma, two AIT employees and two builders have been named in the FIR.
The Vidhan Sabha committee, formed after the SAD-BJP alliance came to power in 2007, charged them with releasing 32.1 acres of trust land for development by private colonisers, in alleged violation of rules. The complaint was made during the Captain’s tenure as the chief minister (2002-07), but no action was taken at that time.