Former chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and senior BJP leader Raj Khurana will face trial for corruption as the court on Friday framed charges against him and two others in a two-year-old graft case.
The case had made headlines in May 2011 after the arrest of Khurana and Devinder Singh Thapa, a junior assistant in the office of the Registrar of Firms and Societies, Punjab. Following his arrest, Khurana had to resign from the post of chief parliamentary secretary.
The names of BJP ministers Manoranjan Kalia and Swarna Ram had also cropped up in the case leading to their resignation, but later the two were given the clean chit.
CBI special judge Vimal Kumar framed charges under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC against Khurana, Thapa and Bhag Singh, private secretary at the Punjab secretariat, posted as personal assistant to then minister Swarna Ram.
The CBI had alleged that the three hatched a criminal conspiracy to get a complaint quashed against the executive members of the Punjab Automobile Mechanics' Association for which they accepted Rs. 1.5 crore in bribe from the complainant.
The three were arrested in May 2011 on the complaint of Manpreet Singh. The complaint was to be quashed by then industries minister Manoranjan Kalia and Thapa had convinced the complainant that Khurana could get it quashed.
The complainant, Manpreet, general secretary of Punjab Automobile Mechanics' Association, had accused Thapa of demanding Rs. 2 crore allegedly to be given to Kalia, through Khurana "for closing the complaint".
On the complaint of Manpreet, the CBI laid a trap on May 5, 2011 and arrested Khurana and Thapa while they were accepting Rs. 1.5 crore from the complainant.
The CBI had also questioned Kalia and Swarna Ram, after which Bhag Singh was arrested on May 10.
According to the CBI, the bribe was demanded by the three accused, all currently out on bail, for getting a complaint quashed against the automobile association. The complaint was to be quashed by Kalia.
The CBI investigations revealed that Bhag Singh got a note signed from Swarna Ram, then minister of technical education, social security, and woman and child welfare, that referred the complaint to Kalia. Bhag Singh made available the copy of the note to Thapa so that he could ask for the bribe, it is alleged.
The bribe amount had to be delivered at Khurana's house and it was agreed that the complainant would give Rs. 15 lakh in cash and nine cheques for Rs. 1.35 crore.
Thapa had introduced the complainant to Khurana and the CBI investigations revealed that there was a conversation featuring Khurana that they had met Kalia for the work. Thapa, who acted as a mediator had accepted Rs. 1.5 crore -- Rs. 15 lakh in cash and Rs. 1.35 crore through nine cheques -- at the official residence of Khurana on May 4, 2011, the night of the trap. The bribe was recovered from the boot of the car of Thapa and cheques were also recovered from him.
May 5, 2011: CBI arrests Khurana and Thapa
May 8: Khurana resigns as CPS
May 10: Bhag Singh arrested following questioning of Swarna Ram
May 31: Khurana and Bhag Singh granted bail
Jul 6: Thapa granted bail
Mar 31, 2012: CBI files chargesheet against the three
Aug 16, 2013: Court frames charges against the three