Land allotment: Punjab BJP MLA arrested in bribery case | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Land allotment: Punjab BJP MLA arrested in bribery case

Punjab BJP MLA and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), finance, Raj Khurana was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) early on Thursday morning in a corruption case.

chandigarh Updated: May 05, 2011 22:51 IST
Shailee Dogra

Punjab BJP MLA and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), finance, Raj Khurana was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) early on Thursday morning in a corruption case.

One Devinder Singh, named as an official with the Registrar, Firms and Societies, Punjab, was also held.

Both were later remanded in two-day custody of the agency by special CBI judge Ritu Tagore. The case against the two has been registered under section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The CBI had raided Khurana's Sector 39 house the previous night after receiving a complaint against him. As per the complaint by Manpreet Singh, the secretary of Punjab Automobile Mechanics' Association, it was alleged that Devinder asked for a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore for closing a complaint against the association without any action. Devinder allegedly said that he would contact CPS Khurana, who would further contact a certain minister (see Kalia named) in the state government to help close the complaint.

According to CBI sources, Devinder had also threatened Manpreet that in case of non-payment of the bribe, the control of the association would be "taken over" by the government and a criminal case would be registered against the office-bearers.

CBI public prosecutor RK Dogra told the court that the complaint that Devinder had offered to settle pertained to sale of 14 kila land in Bishanpura (Rajpura) by the Punjab Automobile Mechanics' Association. One Manmohan Singh had complained that the sale was illegal. "Industries minister Manoranjan Kalia had marked the inquiry against the office-bearers of the association."

"Initially Rs 2 crore was demanded, but the deal was struck at Rs 1.5 crore. Devinder told Manpreet that the bribe amount had to be delivered at the residence of the BJP MLA (Khurana)," CBI officials told HT. A part -- Rs 15 lakh – was to be paid in cash, while the rest was to be in the form of nine cheques of Rs 1.35 crore each.

Kalia named
With the arrest of CPS Khurana, names of several political bigwigs are under the scanner; Punjab industries and local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia tops the list. The CBI maintained in the court on Thursday that a part of the money that was to be paid by Manpreet Singh, secretary of Punjab Automobile Mechanics' Association, was to ultimately reach Kalia. The CBI public prosecutor told the court that Kalia had marked an inquiry against the association, and was to receive a share in the Rs 1.5 crore bribe to settle that complaint without action.

How they were trapped
The office-bearers of the Punjab Automobile Mechanics' Association and the CBI worked in tandem. The agency claimed to have recorded a phone conversation between CPS Raj Khurana and the association's vice-president Satpal Singh Sodhi. Khurana allegedly discussed the bribe-payment visit by association secretary Manpreet with Sodhi. It was planned for 6 pm.

At 6, at Khurana's house, Devinder Singh, the alleged go-between, introduced Manpreet to Khurana, who assured him that he had talked to Kalia, it is alleged. That's when CBI sleuths arrived and recovered the bribe money from Devinder – cash from his car and cheques on his person.

Khurana, as per the CBI, denied having met Kalia and said he had actually met another minister, Swarna Ram, instead.